Quick Study

By Brian Robinson

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FCC's broadband plan is out; now for the hard part

The Federal Communications Commission has finally published it’s much awaited plan for making the U.S. a broadband nation but, really, you didn’t expect that to be anywhere close to the final say, did you?

It’s going to be many months, if not years, before we see just where this plan leads. Between here and there lie many pit stops, potholes, re-evaluations and outright negativity that will delay, hijack and perhaps re-direct the whole thing.

Here are just a couple of the early indicators of what this plan faces.

Cliff Stearns, the top Republican on the House Communications Subcommittee, launched a pre-emptive salvo at the end of last week that showed what kind of ride he expects to give the FCC’s plan once it gets to his panel.

From what he’d seen so far the plan represents nothing more than “the success of the national broadband plan that we already have,” he wrote in a letter to the FCC. He also said he expected the plan to be based on private investment – the old free-markets-know-best routine – and that he hoped the plan would not be “littered with hidden agendas.”

Stearns also said he wanted to know what the FCC spent in coming up with the plan. How’s that for putting someone on the defensive?

Another possible fly in the soup is a Congressional waiver for agencies to defer from releasing details of their spectrum use, if by doing so it would harm national security or public safety.

The Radio Spectrum Inventory Act now being considered by Congress is needed for the FCC to identify spectrum it can provide to the wireless industry, given the squeeze that’s becoming apparent because of burgeoning broadband needs for video etc.

However, if there are swatches of data missing on various parts of the spectrum used by agencies, how can the FCC identify if it can be reallocated? And – my suspicious mind at work here – what’s to stop agencies who don’t want to give up the spectrum declaring it subject to the national security exemption, even it might not be worthy of it?

Like I said, there are still miles and miles to go.

Posted by Brian Robinson on Mar 16, 2010 at 12:19 PM


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