The FCC’s Broadband Initiative #esriuc

Michael Byrne, GIO, Office of Strategic Planning & Policy Analysis, for the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) spoke on the Broadband Mapping Initiative for the U.S. at the Esri Senior Executive Seminar. Byrne offered some statistics that showed that nearly 95% of Americasn have access to wireline broadband service, but only about 2/3 actually subscribe meaning that about 100 million citizens across the U.S. are without access at home.

He said that 60% of the U.S. has 3G coverage with over 77% of the U.S. population having access to three or more 3G providers. In 2009, 172 million mobile phones were sold in the U.S. and of these 27% were smart phones. “We’re seeing an exponential growth on availability of broadband,” said Byrne.

What’s the Broadband Plan from the FCC? Congress is calling to ensure that every American has access to broadband capability where it believes that broadband is the technology that allows the U.S. to keep its lead as the worldwide technology leader.

The goals of U.S. Broadband Plan call for at least 100 million U.S. homes to have affordable access to at least 100 mpbs download and at least 50 Mbps upload speed by 2020. And, that the U.S. should lead the world in mobile innovation. Further, every American should have access, means to afford and the skills to operate Internet access. Every community anchor institution should have gigbit service; every first responder should have access to a nationwide wireless interoperable network and every American should be able to use broadband to track and manage assets.

Recommendations of the plan:

  • Design policies to ensure robust competition and as a result maximize consumer welfare, innovation and investment
  • Ensure efficient allocation and management of assets government controls or influences to encourage network upgrades and competitive entry
  • Reform current universal service mechanisms to support development of broadband; boost adoption
  • Reform laws, policies, standards, and incentives to maximize benefits of broadband in key sectors

The Broadband Map
  • Allow us to measure progress and better manage the desired policy outcomes
  • Established under American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), requires National Telecommunication and Information Adminstration (NTIA) to create and publish the National Broadband Map; the NTIA partnered with FCC to help
  • Requirements for the map are: on-line, searchable and interactive

The Map Elements
  • 56 Grant awardees
  • Collect twice a year
    • Availability by provider
    • Technology employed
    • Speed
    • Community anchor institutions
    • Infrastructure
  • Census Block level map
  • Assembled and published in on map
  • Data is publically available
  • Data is delivered to FCC; map will be produced by Feb 2011
  • As of Friday, 54 awardees data sets integrated into one spatial data container
  • So far the maps says so far:
    • Confirms that 95% availability at the lowest level technology
    • We are seeing block level data for the first time
    • Variation in speed and wireless spectrum is used
    • Struggling with delivering this volume of data

Byrne acknowledged the changing culture of the FCC, that the National Broadband Map provides a service and that search is really important to the end user.

Published Monday, July 12th, 2010

Written by Joe Francica

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