A First Step to Our National Broadband Plan

A First Step to Our National Broadband Plan

by Charles Benton

With the rush to implement the broadband-related provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, little attention has been paid to a provision of the 2008 Farm Bill with requires the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Agriculture to craft a comprehensive rural broadband strategy. This plan is due to Congress this Spring and the FCC has requested public input.

On March 25, the Benton Foundation filed comments at the FCC based mainly on our Action Plan for America. We argue that the rural broadband strategy should address the rural aspects of the comprehensive national broadband plan required of the FCC in the Recovery Act and due in early 2010. With historian Michael Copps at the helm of the FCC, we remind the Commission that the plan should not depart from the over arching purposes of U.S. Telecommunication Law: "to make available to all people of the United States a rapid, efficient, nation-wide and world-wide, wire and radio communications service with adequate facilities at reasonable charges." As then-candidate Barack Obama said, "Every American should have the highest speed broadband access ­ no matter where you live, or how much money you have."

It is of the utmost importance that the FCC stresses the wealth of tangible economic and quality of life benefits that people in rural areas are being denied through the lack of access to affordable broadband. In its rural broadband strategy, the Commission should recommend policies and initiatives that promote both the supply and demand for broadband. This will establish a "virtuous circle" in which an increased supply of robust and affordable broadband stimulates the creation of applications that produce wide ranging, valuable social benefits that then causes citizens to demand even more robust and affordable broadband; which in turn creates investment in more broadband; which then stimulates the creation of even more robust and affordable broadband.

In short, the plan must increase broadband demand to rural areas through Federal regulations that spur economic development, provide better health care at a lower cost, enhance education opportunities, reduce energy consumption, promote public safety, and strengthen how efficient, transparent government connects with its citizens.

I look forward to reading the thoughts of others and to seeing the FCC's report to Congress in May.

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Comments

In short, the plan must increase broadband demand to rural areas through Federal regulations that spur economic development, provide better health care at a lower cost, enhance education opportunities, reduce energy consumption, promote public safety, and strengthen how efficient, transparent government connects with its citizens.

indiaseo (not verified) on August 12, 2009 - 2:54am.

With the rush to implement the broadband-related provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, little attention has been paid to a provision of the 2008 Farm Bill with requires the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Agriculture to craft a comprehensive rural broadband strategy. This plan is due to Congress this Spring and the FCC has requested public input.

indiaseo (not verified) on August 11, 2009 - 4:17am.

PPP,s
(Public/Private Partnerships)

The United States ranks a dismal 17th in the World in “true” Broadband deployments and services. Most of this can be attributed to ousted FCC Chair Kevin Martin and past White House administrations.

It is quite clear that Communities, Municipalities, Cities and Counties within the United States have desired their own broadband wireless infrastructures for their Citizenry, Businesses, Tourists, Local Governments, School Systems, Health Care Providers, Public Safety, First Responders and Low-Income Households, serving their Urban, Suburban and Rural Geographical Service Areas (GSA’s), since broadband Wi-Fi (802.11n) became tried and true in the marketplace.

It is important that local public/private partnerships be formed to manage the network, but more importantly, manage the revenues (profit) generated from these services. These monies may be used to fund any number of community outreach programs and/or help to sustain new Economic Stimulus programs from the ARRA that may be initiated by our local Communities, Cities and Counties.

These local public/private partnerships will consist of Local Government officials, Key Business Leaders, School Boards, Non-Profits, Chambers of Commerce, Marketing Co-ops, Business Organizations, etc. within the geographical service area where the network will reside. This will ensure that the monies are properly disseminated to manage the network and to programs within the community that need it.

The ground level Public/Private partnerships are the necessary component to accomplish everything that BTOP, the NTIA, RUS and the Obama Administration are trying to achieve. Most importantly, these partnerships will provide for the transparency and increased public participation that is called for. They will also create a “sense of involvement” by the constituencies involved leading to increased “Social Capital”.

Read the complete BTOP RFI Response at http://www.accessdelray.org

Bradford L. Bowman
Program Director, AccessDelray.org
http://www.accessdelray.org
[email protected]

AccessDelray on March 31, 2009 - 9:51am.

As the founder of RuMBA, the Rural Mobile Broadband Alliance, USA, I entirely agree and support Charles Benton's guidance, directives and comments to the FCC on the development of a National Broadband Plan. Though RuMBa's focus is a little narrower, emphasizing the advantages of mobile broadband over wired solutions, our principle and mission remain aligned with Benton Foundations'. Below, please see copy of our proposed American Boradband Bill of Rights, recently circulated to the media:

American Broadband Bill Of Rights

March 25th, 2009

Whereas the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 allocates $7.2billion for broadband connectivity in un-served and underserved areas, Americans, united under the banner of Rural Mobile Broadband Alliance (RuMBA) USA, resolve that these funds be spent for an efficient network that is:

UBIQUITOUS
Our telephones and modems must seamlessly work everywhere: in rural, suburban and urban areas, so as to cover the additional 2 million square miles of broadband coverage needed.

SAFE
Americans need E-911 with location service and an emergency cell broadcast system with weather and disaster alerting (SMS). Katrina-like outages are unacceptable.

MOBILE

Whether in the car, on the tractor, at home, in school or at work, and all areas in between, our nation relies on mobility; our networks must reflect our lifestyle needs.

AFFORDABLE
Rural Americans demand competitive pricing for services and devices. We need the same access to services and devices as the rest of the country at a fair price, period.

SUSTAINABLE
America must invest in next generation systems that can be operated at a profit and maintained by our local small town carriers. We must leap ahead and buy tomorrow’s technologies, not yesterday’s.

Join the Rural Mobile Broadband Alliance (www.rumbausa.com) in demanding a ubiquitous, safe, mobile, affordable and sustainable broadband network.

Americans have the right to equal treatment everywhere in the country!

Luisa Handem
Managing Director
Rural Mobile Broadband Alliance (RuMBA) USA
E-mail: [email protected]
http://www.rumbausa.com

luisahandem on March 27, 2009 - 1:29pm.