Uncommon Wisdom

Dec 17 2009   2:42PM GMT

FCC’s national broadband plan updated with gap analysis

Tom Nolle Tom Nolle Profile: Tom Nolle

The FCC has released another status update on its national broadband policy initiative, and we don’t fault any of the points in the document. We’re even impressed by its insights in some cases.
The FCC has created a gap analysis in key policy areas like networks, devices, applications and content, and adoption and utilization. It has also identified remedies, such as changes to universal service, spectrum policy, access sharing policy, and transparency in retail service descriptions.

What may be most interesting is that the FCC is looking at ways to leverage stimulus construction to create additional broadband capacity through a government partnership program. This could be a step toward having “public” or local-government-owned elements in the access and middle-mile networks.

Wireless is also a strong player in the FCC material, which means there is greater risk of policy intervention in wireless broadband. All this adds up to hastening the deployment of transport/access capacity at the expense of commoditizing pure capacity even further. That will, in our view, be the primary driver for service-layer consideration by telcos in the U.S.

There’s already criticism of the outline from advocates who would like to see broader wholesale requirements and other measures to break up the “duopoly” of telco and cable, but we don’t think this is a realistic goal or good public policy; it will likely reduce investment if it’s adopted.

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