The FCCâ€™s new National Broadband Plan sets only modest goals for the United States at 4Mb/s universal service by 2020. This has members of Congress asking questions about the competitive goals for U.S. broadband service and how it compares to other countries.
Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-HI, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, challenged FCC chairman Julius Genachowski about the goals of the plan.
â€śThe National Broadband Plan (NBP) proposes a goal of having 100 million homes subscribed at 100Mb/s by 2020,â€ť he wrote, â€śwhile the leading nations already have 100Mb/s fiber-based services at costs of $30 to $40 per month and beginning rollout of 1Gb/s residential services, which the FCC suggests is required only for a single anchor institution in each community by 2020.
This appears to suggest that the United States should accept a 10- to 12-year lag behind the leading nations. What is the FCCâ€™s rationale for a vision that appears to be firmly rooted in the second tier of countries?â€ť Inouye asked.
Sen. Mark Begich, D-AK, also questioned the goal. â€śWhy did the plan settle on the download speed of 4MB by 2020? It seems a bit modest for a goal.â€ť
Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-ND, wants to know why urban areas are targeted with 100Mb/s connections while rural areas look likely to end up with the minimum 4Mb/s. â€śHow will you structure the policies to meet these goals in a way that doesnâ€™t exacerbate the existing digital divide?â€ť
Genachowski recently submitted answers to these questions. â€śThe planâ€™s targets of 4Mb/s download and 1Mb/s upload [are] aggressive. It is one of the highest universalization targets of any country in the world. Many nations, such as South Korea and Finland, adopted short-term download targets around 1Mb/s,â€ť Genachowski wrote.
â€śThe plan recommends reevaluating the 4Mb/s target every year so this target may rise over time, which will ensure that Americans continue to receive high-quality broadband access at an affordable rate, and that consumers in rural areas will continue to receive broadband service that is reasonably comparable to the service provided in urban areas.â€ť