March 17, 2010, 10:53 AM — With all of the attention the FCC National Broadband Plan has received over the past few months, you would expect that releasing the actual 376-page document--Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan--would be the end game. On the contrary, publishing the document is just the beginning.
As much resistance as the FCC has experienced just trying to draft a plan, it seems that political opponents--and the lobbyists, and big business interests that back them--have treated the plan itself as the target. However, the FCC plan is not a government directive; it's a blueprint that is still a work in progress. To its credit, the FCC has provided equal opportunity for dialog and debate for both public and private interests throughout the process of developing the plan.
What now? Now the real work begins. The FCC is planning a series of 40 or so proceedings over the next few months to engage in more detailed discussion of the "how" to go with the "what". The authority of the FCC to pursue its ambitious initiatives has been called into question, and the FCC will need to work closely with private sector interests to bring the proposals in the plan to life.
Jim Burger, an attorney with the law firm of Dow Lohnes specializing in representation of technology companies on intellectual property, entertainment content licensing, communications and government policy matters, commented via e-mail to clarify "Much of what the FCC proposes is well within its authority, particularly in areas like universal service and spectrum allocation where it already has existing rules or a specific right to act under the Communications Act."
Jed Kolko, a technology expert with the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), e-mailed me to note "The National Broadband Plan comes at a time when roughly two-thirds of households subscribe to broadband--up from 2 percent just ten years ago--and well over 90 percent of households live where broadband is available."