Friday, January 08, 2010

FCC chief: Formulating U.S. broadband deployment policy "really hard"

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski offered some perspective this week on why the FCC has asked Congress for another month to complete its policy recommendations on expanding advanced telecommunications infrastructure to all Americans.

"I can't tell you that we've figured out the solution completely and I can't tell you that we'll figure out the solution to this perfectly by the time we do the National Broadband Plan," he told GigaOM, according to this Reuters dispatch. "This is really hard."

Indeed it is, because this isn't about simply tweaking the existing, incomplete infrastructure -- or "ecosystem" as some federal officials have termed it -- that leaves lots of Americans reliant on the outdated copper-based infrastructure put in place decades ago to deliver plain old telephone service (POTS).

As AT&T noted in a recent FCC filing, that system is on the verge of obsolescence. The United States now needs a new infrastructure for a new Internet-protocol based range of telecom services that go far beyond standard voice service. Genachowski has described it as "the critical infrastructure challenge of our generation."

Getting there won't be a natural extension of the old infrastructure but instead a radical overhaul calling for new business models, particularly among the last and middle mile segments.
It's as much of a business model challenge as an infrastructure challenge. That scope forces the FCC to engage in original, outside the box thinking -- which as Genachowski aptly noted is hard -- but necessary -- work.

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