Sunday, June 7, 2009

AT&T's National Broadband Plan Calls for 100% Coverage by 2014

In a filing with the FCC regarding the national broadband plan, AT&T set a target and timeline of 100 percent broadband by 2014.

"A successful national broadband plan should aim for an Internet that is universal, open, private and safe. It should also foster an environment in which all participants in the Internet ecosystem have the incentive to continue the massive investments required to create more bandwidth, compelling content and applications that will make everyone in the United States want to be connected. Skill and leadership will be required to promote and balance these competing principles," said AT&T's Senior Vice-President of Federal Regulatory, Robert Quinn.

AT&T noted that lthough 8 percent of U.S. households still lack access to terrestrial broadband service, simply increasing the supply of broadband is not a magic bullet. There is a potentially greater challenge on the "demand" side of the equation. According to the most recent data from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, only 55 percent of adult Americans have broadband Internet access service in their homes -- meaning that roughly 40 percent of American households that could get broadband service decline to do so.

Some key points of the AT&T filing:

1. Embrace the Diversity of Broadband. The National Broadband Plan should recognize and embrace all of these platforms, users, and services as part of the broadband ecosystem that will help ensure 100 percent broadband access and deliver the many societal benefits envisioned by Congress in the Recovery Act that will, in turn, promote 100 percent broadband adoption.

2. Engage All Broadband Stakeholders. The Broadband Plan is a plan for the entire nation, not just those entities traditionally regulated by the FCC. It must therefore engage a diverse collection of parties that have roles to play in achieving the 100 percent broadband goals discussed above: the private sector; consumers; public institutions; public-interest advocates; and the government.

3. Promote Broadband Innovation, Investment, and Deployment and Jobs. The private sector has invested hundreds of billions of dollars in broadband-enabled facilities, services, applications, and content over the last decade. This investment has been, and should continue to be the primary engine of broadband growth in the United States.

4. Provide Targeted Government Support for Broadband Deployment Where Needed. There will be some remote areas of the nation where the private sector alone will not be able to shoulder the financial burdens of deploying broadband facilities required to achieve 100 percent broadband access. In those circumstances, the government should provide targeted assistance, including acting on pending proposals to reform the universal service program (and the related intercarrier compensation regime) to provide support for broadband deployment.

5. Remove Impediments to Broadband Adoption. The National Broadband Plan must address the impediments that have kept some populations offline. The Plan must engage many stakeholders --both inside and outside the government--to provide training and public access to broadband services; economic assistance for the acquisition of broadband services and equipment; and incentives for the development of technology and content aimed at specific users' needs.

6. Encourage Maximum Utilization. The National Broadband Plan must encourage the deployment of more efficient and cost-effective--smarter--broadband networks, services, applications, and content as efficiently as possible. As broadband becomes more ingrained in our everyday lives--from web surfing to video conferencing to smart grids to e-commerce and e-government to telemedicine and beyond--networks will need to dynamically provide the performance capabilities required by the increasingly diverse array of services, applications, and content traveling over them.

7. Enhance Cybersecurity and Online Safety. Ensuring 100 percent broadband access and enabling 100 percent adoption will be an utterly wasted effort if the National Broadband Plan does not also include a robust strategy for ensuring cybersecurity and online safety. As broadband services play an increasingly instrumental role in virtually all facets of our cultural, economic, social, and governmental institutions, a secure and safe online environment is an imperative.

See also