FCC asks nation for suggestions on big broadband plan


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The Federal Communications Commission opened proceedings today to discuss the creation of a national broadband Internet system that will reach every American. The plan is due in Congress by Feb. 17, 2010.


The FCC is looking for input on ways to keeps costs manageable, effectively monitor the deployment of new infrastructure and, more expansively, ‘use broadband to advance consumer welfare, civic participation, public safety’ and a slew of other national issues.

‘If we do our job well,’ acting FCC Chairman Michael J. Copps said in a statement, ‘this will be the most formative -- indeed transformative -- proceeding ever in the Commission’s history.’

Congress mandated the FCC to come up with the broadband plan as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Also known as the stimulus package, the act allocated $4.7 billion to the Broadband Technology and Opportunities Program, a wide-ranging program of grants, planning and oversight of which the FCC’s broadband initiative is a part.

The FCC hasn’t yet said how it will gather comments and suggestions. No website or mailing address was given on its announcement.

Update, 2:47 p.m. The FCC released the full text [pdf] of its 59-page Notice of Inquiry (NOI) on this subect. The document points potential contributors to the FCC’s electronic comment filing sytem. Given that the inquiry centers on the future of the Internet, you might think they’d use a transparent, next-generation commenting system like President Obama did for his town hall last month. But it’s still early in the game.

-- David Sarno