Tuesday, August 04, 2009

FCC chief calls broadband top strategic priority; feds must still decide how best to spend stimulus

The new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission said yesterday that the FCC's top "strategic" priority will be to encourage expansion and adoption of high-speed Internet service, or broadband. Julius Genachowski spoke in a meeting with editors and reporters at the San Jose Mercury News.

Genachowski "noted that some 40 percent of U.S. households don't currently have broadband access," Troy Wolverton reports. "That rate rises to 60 percent among some sectors of the population, such as minorities and low-income or rural residents. But it's not just that adoption rates aren't as high as they should be. Transmission speeds are too slow, and there may not be enough competition, he said. Meanwhile, he suggested that broadband is too expensive for some consumers and the government hasn't done enough to tout its benefits." (Read more)

"Government agencies are now considering the costs of providing high-speed Internet access to rural areas and which technologies might be the most cost-effective," and will begin to make decisions once the deadline for applications in the first round of funding from the economic stimulus passes Aug. 14, Rachael King reports for Business Week. The FCC said in may that rural broadband should "be cost-effective to install, provide consistent performance at an affordable price, and be able to upgrade to higher speeds over time," King notes. (Read more)

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