The FCC yesterday laid down initial goals for its proposed U.S. broadband plan. Regulators believe that providing greater access broadband Internet connections, U.S. citizens will have better access to job training, higher quality healthcare, a smart grid to examine energy consumption, as well as enhanced public safety and homeland security capabilities.
These recommendations come on the heels of the agency's proposed "100 Squared Initiative" that proposes that the minimum broadband access speed should be set at 100 Mbps.
A key take away from the FCC's advertised goals is that because broadband connections can facilitate a greater flow of information, it can be used to solve ongoing issues. Take healthcare, for example. By making broadband more affordable through the Rural Health Care Program, hospitals could potentially save over $700 billion over 15-25 years by being able to adopt remote patient monitoring tools.
In addition to laying out its broadband plan goals, the FCC voted to allow schools that currently receive government telecom funding under the E-Rate program to provide after-hours public access to their computers and data connections. Current FCC rules banned such use. This initiative would enable everything from adult education, job training and related educational purposes.
But as a report in the Wall Street Journal points out, there are still a number of pending questions that need to be answered. For one, the FCC has yet to reveal how it will drive competition between telcos and competitive providers and how it will update the $8 billion voice subsidy program.
- see the FCC release here (pdf)
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