FCC eyes open access after backing away from regulation in 2001 and 2002

The state of the nationwide broadband infrastructure in the U.S. is certainly lacking compared to other parts of the world where much faster speeds are offered at lower prices. According to the FCC, part of what has allowed such robust competition in the global market is open access to carrier facilities.

According to the FCC, these open policies have helped other industrialized nations to develop competitive broadband markets. The FCC released a draft of a study that looked into broadband practices and plans this week with the aim of improving the reach and use of broadband in America.

Reuters quotes the study saying, "The lowest prices and highest speeds are almost always offered by firms in markets where, in addition to an incumbent telephone company and a cable company, there are also competitors who entered the market, and built their presence, through use of open access facilities."

The study is 232 pages long and was written by the Harvard University Berkman Center for Internet and Society. The study also says that, "an engaged regulator enforced open access obligations, competitors using these open access facilities provided an important catalyst for the development of robust competition."

Reuters reports that open access has been an issue not addressed by the FCC since decisions in 2001 and 2002 moved away from open access enforcement for broadband. The U.S. is not alone in earmarking stimulus funds to improve broadband access according to the study; several other countries are doing the same thing.

The FCC has appointed a task force that has announced estimates for a wireless and landline infrastructure for broadband in America. The task force estimates that the infrastructure will cost between $20 billion and $350 billion depending on the speeds offered. The FCC reports that most Americans have internet access at home with one third having access to broadband but not subscribing, and 4% having no access at all.

The FCC started discussing the definition of broadband in August; this is a key step towards defining the scope of the infrastructure needed in America.

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