The US have released their National Broadband Plan today which details recommendations of how the country should proceed with pushing forward its broadband development over the coming years. Produced by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), the Plan details actions for connecting consumers and the economy up to take advantage of 21st century technology to help advance the country fully into the digital economy.
One third of Americans (100 million people) do not currently have broadband at home, with 14 million of these desiring it. This large gap in broadband availability creates a growing cost of digital exclusion, particularly with new applications destined to become available such as access to health information and education. Some specific goals have been set out to shape America's broadband vision for 2020.
Many of the plans are logical steps forward which are in progress elsewhere, such as the re-allocation of analogue spectrum to more efficient digital services which frees up bandwidth for new mobile broadband services, and opening up access to ducts and poles.
A universal access policy will see everyone have access to affordable broadband that provides actual download speeds of 4Mbps, but the ambition lies to have this in place by 2020, with much of the funding coming from the existing Universal Service Fund supporting broadband.
Interestingly, they also see broadband as a way to drive energy efficiency and encourage care for the environment. They suggest that using broadband to modernize the electricity grid can make it more reliable and efficient, and broadband will also allow energy innovation in homes and businesses by making real-time usage data readily available to consumers.
Details discussed in the Plan are not set solid within stone as these recommendations are being set forth before Congress tomorrow which can tinker and adjust time-lines if it deems this appropriate. The full report can be read at www.broadband.gov/plan/.