President Obama has released a Wireless Expansion plan which promises to provide 98 percent of Americans with high-speed Internet access by 2021. The plan is also intended to create jobs, drive research, and boost the economy by providing more Americans with the benefits of Internet access. The plan will free up an additional 400 MHz of the radio spectrum for mobile broadband use. The additional spectrum will be auctioned off to raise an estimated $27.8 billion. That money will fund 4G networks in rural areas, research and development in 4G technologies, and a wireless public safety network.
This past week, the Federal Communications Commission released its National Broadband Plan. The 360 page document is the first step in extending broadband Internet service to millions of U.S. residents. The Plan intends to influence U.S. broadband access in four ways:
- First, in designing policies to ensure competition among Internet service providers in order to drive innovation and lower costs,
- Second, in ensuring efficient allocation and management of assets such as wireless spectrum, and network infrastructure,
- Third, in reforming service mechanisms to support the deployment of broadband to high-cost areas, at a price affordable to low-income Americans,
- Fourth and lastly, in reforming laws, policies, standards and incentives to maximize the benefits of broadband in public education, health care, and government operations.
The National Broadband Plan has six primary long-term goals to be accomplished over the next decade:
- 100 million U.S. homes to have 100 mbps download speeds
- The U.S. leads the world in mobile innovation
- Every American has affordable access to robust broadband service
- Every U.S. community has at lease 1 gigabit per second service to schools, hospitals and government buildings
- First responders are provided with nationwide, wireless, interoperable broadband over a national public safety network
- The U.S. leads in the clean energy economy using broadband to track and manage real-time energy consumption.
The plan is expected to cost over $15 billion. The FCC believes that it could raise a significant percentage of the cost by auctioning off portions of the wireless spectrum. While portions of the Plan are likely to be controversial, broadband providers and consumer groups are praising the plan as just what the country needs to stay ahead in the global economy.
The FCC has proposed the formation of a National Digital Literacy Corps, to assist individuals and communities without Internet access in becoming connected. Like Americorps, the Digital Literacy Corps, would target communities in the U.S. with low numbers of broadband subscribers to assist them in getting online and reaping the benefits provided by the Internet. The proposal is part of the national broadband plan due out this week.
FCC to propose national digital literacy corps [Computerworld]