Wednesday, September 30, 2009

FCC: More subsidies needed for U.S. telecom infrastructure

Just days before President Barack Obama took office this year, his then-technology advisor and now Federal Communications Commission broadband czar Blair Levin told the State of the Net Conference that the $6 billion allocated for broadband infrastructure in the forthcoming American Recovery and Reinvestment Act represented only a portion of the new administration's planned efforts to boost broadband deployment in the U.S. (Congress increased that amount to $7.2 billion in the final version of the bill.)

The FCC clearly signaled more robust federal subsidies will be needed in an update released Tuesday on its progress and plans toward developing an overall broadband build out strategy to achieve universal access as required by the economic stimulus legislation.

Current subsidies including the the $7.2 billion in grants and loan subsidies contained in the economic stimulus package "are insufficient to achieve national purposes," the FCC said in a Sept. 29 news release. The reason as explained in the news release: $20 billion in subsidies would be needed to fully deploy slow speed "basic" broadband that would be quickly outmoded. To bring the U.S. where it needs to be for the future -- fiber to the premises providing throughput of 100 Mbs or better -- the number rises to $350 billion.

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