National Broadband Plan: An Effort for the Ages

There has been a strong push by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission over the past nine months to understand the nation’s broadband needs and to develop recommendations that facilitate global innovation.  Today’s release of the National Broadband Plan is not the end of the discussion, but in many ways just the beginning. 

Technology advancements continue to drive the need for greater bandwidth. Storage capabilities are doubling every 18 months.  Consumers are increasingly leveraging the cloud for services and content moving beyond e-mail and search.  3D imaging is on the rise.  Machine-to-machine communication is increasing.   These demands will require that we pursue meaningful opportunities to make more wireline and wireless broadband available.  

Despite the explosive growth of the Internet over the past decade, many Americans are still not online or cannot afford broadband connectivity.  As broadband services optimize how we work, how we learn and how we access entertainment, health care and other services, all citizens must have broadband connectivity to reap the benefits.  We support the FCC’s proposals to connect all anchor institutions – such as schools, libraries and hospitals — to high capacity broadband networks;  to transition the Lifeline and Link-up programs, which provide discounts on basic phone service to income-eligible consumers, to the emerging broadband world; and to pursue the potential of public-private partnerships to improve affordability and connect all Americans.  

 

We also commend the FCC on its push to find 500 MHz of wireless spectrum by 2020 for wireless broadband services, as well as its continued support of unlicensed spectrum and ‘white spaces,’ which are increasingly vibrant sectors of the wireless marketplace.   According to Richard Thanki,  a consultant with Perspective Associates, between 2009 and 2025, the U.S. economic value generated by a small segment of the unlicensed wireless marketplace will be $16 billion to $36.8 billion.  And this segment accounts for only about 15 percent of the total projected market for devices using unlicensed spectrum.  

While we have not yet reviewed the full details of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan, we share the goal of finding clear and meaningful solutions that are narrowly tailored, technology neutral and promote investment across the entire broadband ecosystem.   We look forward to working with the FCC to ensure that America leads the world in broadband technologies and services and to maximize the potential economic growth and employment benefits of the emerging broadband era.

 

About the Author

Vice President, U.S. Government Affairs, Microsoft

Fred Humphries is Vice President of U.S. Government Affairs for Microsoft in Washington, D.C. His work amplifies Microsoft’s voice on key advocacy issues internally and externally on all aspects of federal and state affairs. In his current position, Mr. Humphries sets strategy and oversees government affairs outreach on a broad range of topics, including cloud computing, taxes, privacy, trade, cybersecurity, education and emerging technologies like Microsoft Kinect. He is also responsible for communicating Microsoft’s leadership role in fostering economic and job opportunities in the U.S. technology sector to policymakers.