Tuesday, September 15, 2009

FCC National Broadband Plan: Internet2 Filing Urges Aggressive Broadband Goals

Internet2 Press Release via 09/15/09 Internet2 today announced it has submitted official comments in response to the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) inquiry on how to define "broadband," part of its ongoing efforts to develop a National Broadband Plan.

In April, the FCC announced their intent to develop a plan that would "ensure that every American has access to broadband capability." To reach that goal, the commission has requested feedback from a variety of stakeholders, including consumers, industry, government, and non-profits.

To address the critical issue of how to define broadband, Internet2, in its recent filing, has urged the FCC to adopt aggressive, future-proof goals for broadband bandwidths, noting that any definition should be viable for at least five years - if not longer - to support development and adoption of next generation Internet services. The filing also noted that enterprises will require more broadband than residences and suggested two different thresholds to recognize that difference. The filing cited that broadband speeds that might be adequate for a residence of four people would not be sufficient to serve, for example - a hospital serving hundreds or thousands.

"The Internet2 community has seen firsthand the transformative power of advanced networking over the past decade. Higher education institutions in the US have utilized their leading-edge network resources to forge research collaborations, to develop new teaching methods, and to push the boundaries of networking itself. We can only begin to imagine the potential for communication, education, and innovation that will come from extending connectivity to every corner of our nation," said Doug Van Houweling, Internet2 president and CEO.

In its additional reply comments, Internet2 went on to argue that, except for the most inaccessible
rural areas, most residences would soon need 100 megabits of broadband bandwidth to accommodate emerging services like high quality videoconferencing that can be used for applications like home healthcare or distance learning.

Based on the experience of its membership, Internet2 also believes most enterprises would need at least one gigabit of connectivity to support the burgeoning number of networked services that will be critical to economic growth.

Internet2's reply comments also targeted a number of incumbent telecommunications providers, who officially commented to the FCC that the definition of broadband should remain at 768 kilobits downstream and 200 kilobits upstream. That is "aiming for the floor," said Internet2.

Van Houweling provided additional input to the FCC on its national broadband plan development as these efforts relate to the future of healthcare. Appearing as part of an expert panel at a FCC workshop held today in Washington DC, Van Houweling provided insight into the Internet2 community's experience with the FCC Rural Healthcare Pilot Program which was developed to help spur the deployment of regional networks dedicated to supporting healthcare in rural areas of the country.

"Of the many compelling reasons to extend the reach of broadband, the development of networking capabilities to support telehealth is among the best. There is an opportunity to fundamentally improve patient care by augmenting the capabilities of rural hospitals and health centers as well as the care people are able to receive at home.

Linking physicians more closely with their colleagues at major centers of medical research or directly to patients in their homes with the right capacity is absolutely critical to making these interactions meaningful and a viable path forward for improving care for citizens across the country ," Van Houweling added.
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