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FCC touts free wireless broadband

11 марта 2010

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Tuesday said it will consider proposing the use of wireless spectrum to launch a "free or very low cost" nationwide broadband service.

The initiative was brought up during the regulator's Digital Inclusion Summit in Washington, which focused on the goal of extending home broadband access to 90% of Americans by 2020, compared to 65% today.

"In order to ensure long-term American competitiveness and prosperity, we must not leave one third of the nation behind," said FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, in a statement.

The FCC used the Digital Inclusion Summit to preview its National Broadband Plan, the full details of which will be presented to the U.S. government on 17 March.

"The National Broadband Plan provides a vision for federal, state and local leadership and partnerships with the private and non-profit communities that will bridge the digital divide and transform America into a nation where broadband expands opportunities to all," said Genachowski.

Currently 93 million Americans do not have broadband at home, said FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who remarked that adoption rates are much lower among certain population segments, including rural Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, the elderly, the disabled, and the poor.

In order to get 90% of the population online by 2020, the FCC will need to extend broadband networks and affordable services to underserved and unserved areas in a way that does not leave service providers out of pocket.

"These disparities won't just disappear over time if we sit back and do nothing," Genachowski said.

As well as a possible free wireless broadband service, the FCC's draft National Broadband Plan proposes using government funds to establish a 'Digital Literacy' training scheme, to be rolled out in areas with low broadband adoption.

Clyburn said the number one reason people cite for being offline is affordability, but digital literacy is reason number two.

"Many Americans lack the basic understanding of how to locate trustworthy content, how to protect personal information, and how to safely interact online," he said.

"Anyway we look at it, for approximately a third of American households, we have a substantial broadband adoption challenge ahead of us.

The FCC also reiterated its commitment to net neutrality.

"All players are not yet equal in the new digital age, all networks are not open and pulsing with the lifeblood of Internet freedom, and what happens to us on the Internet depends not just on where we choose to go, but where others would have us go," said FCC Commissioner Michael Copps.

"What a lost opportunity it would be – what a tragic irony of history – if this liberating new technology ended, through no inherent fault of its own, by failing those who have struggled so long and hard for access to the tools of opportunity that they need to be full participants in society," he added.

Источник: Total Telecom

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