3 Issues With The FCC's National Broadband Plan


1. Net neutrality: Where is it? The topic has long been bandied about by the FCC, the broadband providers, Google ... the report never mentions it. Not a word about equal access for all or throttling back high-speed connections. It does mention providing very attractive speeds: 100 million U.S. homes with 100-Mbps service within 10 years. However, the plan does not address carriers' previously proposed efforts (and in some cases, actions) to penalize customers deemed to be using more than "their fair share." One way or another, the topic needs to be addressed.

2. More regulation: Some politicians worry that the plan leaves carriers open to more rules and controls, though Chairman Julius Genachowski has denied that is his goal. He has repeatedly stated that the plan is aimed at promoting competition and innovation. One concern is that the FCC could reclassify broadband as a common carrier, in a similar way to how telephone service is treated. Others object to broadband providers being mandated to share the fiber networks those companies built, as telephone companies were required to do with copper wire networks a decade ago. The fear is that broadband players will not have enough incentive to make the investment in expansion if they have to share that work with competitors.

3. Digital privacy: The plan calls for the overarching online environment to provide users with more protection. How will that be done? The plan stresses the need to promote the establishment of commercial services that can harness "digital identities" in order to provide customized services. That can happen by means of innovation at data mining businesses, for example, along with the general public taking some responsibility for their online identities. The National Broadband Policy is unclear as to which government agency or legislative body should figure out the roles of the FTC and FCC with respect to online privacy.

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