The US government has unveiled a new plan for high-speed internet access that will give the US “the fastest and most extensive wireless network in the world,” according to an executive summary of the proposal released on Monday by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The plan formulated by the FCC heralds a revolution in US communications by recognizing broadband internet as the country’s major telecommunications platform, after decades in which the telephone and television broadcast networks held the top spots.
The new plan sets a goal of assuring that by 2020 at least 100 million homes have affordable access to so-called broadband networks that allow them to download data from the Internet at speeds of at least 100 megabits per second - 20 times or more faster than most people get today.
The proposal, which will be sent Tuesday to Congress, seeks to put super-fast Internet access of 1 gigabit per second in public facilities such as schools, hospitals and government buildings in every community.
The FCC wants to reallocate a large slice of radio-frequency spectrum currently controlled by TV and radio networks to use for high-speed Internet service, regarded as a much cheaper and quicker way of spreading broadband service than laying wire of fiber cables - particularly in rural areas.
“The National Broadband Plan is a 21st-century road map to spur economic growth and investment, create jobs, educate our children, protect our citizens and engage in our democracy,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a Democrat and former technology executive appointed by President Obama last year.
“It’s an action plan, and action is necessary to meet the challenges of global competitiveness and harness the power of broadband to help address so many vital national issues.” Projected to cost 12 billion-16 billion dollars, the plan would be paid for with 7.2 billion dollars allocated for that purpose in the 787-billion-dollar economic stimulus plan passed last year, and by money collected from wireless spectrum auctions.
Several technology groups praised the plan.
The FCC has “produced a balanced, comprehensive and forward- looking plan that should serve the country well,” Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, a digital rights group, told PC World.
“The US has long needed such a plan to keep pace with other countries, and this plan, if implemented, will accomplish that objective.” Gigi Sohn added.