Wednesday, April 8, 2009

FCC Launches National Broadband Plan: Copps Says "At Long Last We Are Serious" 04/08/09 Boston - In launching the national broadband planning effort of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Acting Commission Chairman Michael J. Copps this morning clearly stated his opinion that the process "signals that at long last we are serious about getting high speed value-laden broadband out to all of our citizens".

The position of Copps was echoed by fellow Democratic Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein, saying that the FCC today launched "a long overdue and desperately needed national broadband policy." Reflecting both on years of Commission inaction on the issue, and on the fact that the current proceeding is mandated by the federal stimulus package, Adelstein concluded "it should not have taken an Act of Congress to get us to do our jobs."

Both Copps and Adelstein repeatedly referred to the national broadband plan as requiring a mutli-agency, multidisciplinary, and combined local-state-federal governmental approach. As Chairman Copps stated, the plan will take "not a stovepipe approach, but a cross cutting effort." He referenced the need to regard broadband policy as involving a wide range of interconnected issues, including smart grids for electrical distribution, public safety and homeland security communications, education, rural development, and healthcare.

Acting FCC Chairman Michael J. Copps
Officially the FCC adopted by unanimous vote a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) entitled "A National Broadband Plan for Our Future" (FCC 09-31). The NOI kicks-off the plan's development by the Commission as mandated by Section 6001(k) of the federal stimulus legislation. Signed by President Obama on February 17, the bill is officially known as the American Recovery and Renewal Act of 2009 (ARRA). ARRA download available here. The ARRA requires the FCC to present the broadband plan to Congress no later than February 2010, the one year anniversary of the ARRA's execution.

Demonstrating the importance of the National Broadband Plan NOI, the Commission revised the meeting agenda early in the day in order to put the broadband item first. With the agenda change, the Commission also brought forward two other previously docketed items on the "Annual Assessment of the Status of Competition in the Market for the Delivery of Video Programming" (MB Docket No. 07-269), and "Promoting Diversification of Ownership In the Broadcasting Services" (MB Docket No. 07-294). In voting to move ahead with the latter two dockets, both Copps and Adelstein again spoke to the idea that the Commission was finally acting in areas that had been neglected under the Bush Administration, despite the existence of congressional mandates.

A digital audio and video recording of today's Commission open meeting is viewable for free via the Real Player platform at the FCC Events page. The NOI launches FCC Docket No. GN 09-51.
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