Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The FCC national broadband plan -- can the Internet help?

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 directs the FCC to develop a national broadband plan within one year. This is reminiscent of the energy policy task force President Bush established during his second week in office. Bush's task force operated in secret, but President Obama has promised us an open and transparent administration, using the Internet as one tool.

It would be a shame if large, incumbent Internet service providers -- telephone and television companies -- dominated the FCC broadband planning process the way large energy companies dominated the formulation of the Bush energy policy.

Before deploying next generation access networks, we should consider new technologies and ownership and business models, but that will not happen if the incumbents write the plan.

Can the Internet be used to open the FCC planning process, to take it beyond the "beltway" and its lobbyists? The administration has established the Recovery.gov Web site to inform us on stimulus spending. How might the FCC use the Internet to open its broadband planning process?