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FCC lays the ground work to dig the U.S. out of the broadband backwater

The U.S. is one of the most advanced and wealthy countries in the world, yet when it comes to broadband access in more rural areas of the country we lag well behind other nations. Citizens in the UK have access to better broadband speeds, as do other countries.

Here in America we are stuck with peak speeds for broadband in many areas that are but a fraction of the lowest speeds seen in other countries. This week the Australian government announced a sweeping plan that would see the investment of billions in government funds to build a nationwide fiber optic broadband network serving 90% of the homes in the country.

Wired reports that the U.S. government is now in talks to develop a national broadband plan. The FCC has been betting on the vacated analog wireless spectrum currently used by TV broadcast to deliver broadband to most homes in the country. The big issue with that plan is that the major winners, AT&T and Verizon, are notorious for strapping such low bandwidth caps on their offerings as to make them unusable to many.

Wired reports that the FCC has a year to survey the nation's internet infrastructure and recommend a plan either to start building a nationwide network or to leave things as they are. President Obama has a nationwide network in mind, as evidenced by the $7.2 billion that was allocated to extend broadband to underserved rural areas.

As often happens in the U.S. government, rather than action and progress the funds have been stuck in a debate over what “underserved and rural” actually defines. The AFP reports that the FCC is seeking input from industry, business, non-profits, and governments federal, state, and local. The different entities have until February 17, 2010 to report to Congress.

Among the aspects the plan is said to be considering are broadband supply and demand; quality and affordability; and problems, threats, or vulnerabilities to the proposed network. Also being examined is how broadband will affect civic participation, public safety, homeland security, community developments, health care delivery, energy independence, and education.

FCC Chairman Michael Copps said, "Today, we commence a national dialogue on how we as a nation can make high-speed broadband available, affordable and easily useable to citizens and businesses throughout the land. This Commission has never, I believe, received a more serious charge than the one to spearhead development of a national broadband plan."

The AFP reports that America trails Japan, Sweden, South Korea, France, Germany, and Canada in broadband quality and subscription rates per capita. One of the key elements under discussion is the speed of the network. Median speeds for broadband access in the U.S. are under 5 Mbps whereas median speeds in Japan are 63 Mbps and in South Korea it's 49 Mbps.

The FCC defines broadband today as connections offering at least 786 Kbps. However, groups such as the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) are seeking speeds on the network of between 10 Mbps and 50 Mbps.

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By Chiisuchianu on 4/9/2009 1:17:29 PM , Rating: 2
My prayers have been answered! Hopefully something really good comes out of this.

RE: woo
By Oregonian2 on 4/9/2009 1:28:13 PM , Rating: 2
Take care about what you wish for, you might get it!

Whatever gets built will be paid for, and if it's "you", then it may be liked less. Only is good when "somebody else" is the one who has to do the paying. :-)

RE: woo
By shin0bi272 on 4/9/2009 2:00:48 PM , Rating: 2
When has the government ever done anything that actually benefited anyone without loads of bureaucracy and taxing people to pay for it? Oh wait ... Reagan cut taxes ... I almost forgot.

If youve been praying for government involvement you really need to read the constitution. Or maybe stop paying attention to your high school and/or college teachers when they say that government is the answer to your problems... because if they knew how to do anything other than lie to children they'd be a business owner rather than a teacher.

RE: woo
By Chiisuchianu on 4/9/2009 6:13:28 PM , Rating: 1
Yea because we all know how great broadband in the U.S. is going without government involvement.

Maybe you should stop paying attention to your rebellious pro-gay teenage friends and realize sometimes government needs to step in.

RE: woo
By Reclaimer77 on 4/9/2009 6:45:35 PM , Rating: 2
This idea that the entire country has crap broadband is NOT true btw.

RE: woo
By sinful on 4/9/2009 10:57:24 PM , Rating: 3
This idea that the entire country has crap broadband is NOT true btw.

We rank about 15th overall, behind Japan, S Korea, Finland, Sweden, France, Netherlands, Portugal, Canada, Poland, Norway, Austria, Belgium, Iceland, Germany, and finally the US.

We do have the highest RATE of broadband adoption, but our broadband is pretty much crap compared to a lot of other countries.
Granted, Japan & Korea are probably the exception with their amazing broadband speeds (about 10x faster than the US), but even France has broadband about 4x faster (on average) than the US.

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

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