Friday, April 9, 2010

FCC Announces National Broadband Agenda

I'm not sure if this is in response to the recent court finding in favor of the telecoms, but I have a feeling it might be (please note this is entirely speculative).  I'll get into what exactly the headline means in a bit, but first I wanted to clarify something from the post relating to the recent court finding in favor of Comcast.  The decision to not allow the FCC to stop Comcast from throttling back the bandwidth for certain users or certain services is not really a knock against net neutrality.  Basically what the courts were saying is that the FCC in its current power to regulate, cannot stop Comcast from any QOS actions.  However, net neutrality is going to be a bill trying to pass through congress that would give the FCC such power.  Now with regard to the news:

The FCC's National Broadband Agenda is one of the cornerstones of their interest in net neutrality legislation.  Basically, they hope to subsidize broadband internet access making it available to anyone and everyone.  Please note this is not at all their only interest in net neutrality, but this is basically at the top of their marketing plan as it is the one most likely to garner support both from the masses as well as from democrats in congress for when the bill finally does make it to the house floor.

The article (which is from and can be found here with an older article on the national broadband plan itself here) speaks on the actual schedule the FCC has laid out for implementation as well as their overall intent for the program (links to where you can find these at the end of the post).  The FCC, who refers to the program as the "foundation for economic growth, job creation, global competitiveness and a better way of life," lays out some of the main points of its plan thusly (info from FCC press releases in green, my points about how it will affect marketing in black):
  • Connecting 100 million households to affordable 100 Mbps service, building the world's largest market of high-speed broadband users and ensuring that new jobs and businesses are created in America.
    • To Marketers: Realistically this point centers more on the ways their plan can stimulate the economy.  Frankly I'm skeptical of any plan that claims to be able to fix the economy, but assuming it at least helps, then it should also help more marketers...more money in the public means more ears and eyes willing to join in the dialogue you are trying to start.  No one needs to hear this from me, but basically it will make our jobs easier because more people will have money to spend on the products and services we are trying to market.
  • Affordable access in every American community to ultra-high-speed broadband of at least 1 GB per second at "anchor institutions" such as schools, hospitals and military installations so that America is hosting the experiments that produce tomorrow's ideas and industries.
    • To Marketers: At its base this might not seem like it will affect most of you, certainly not if you work in the private sector, but it actually does quite a bit.  Both sides of the argument are claiming that higher internet speeds are only possible if you take their suggested course of action (support/oppose net neutrality)Google is trying to make sure this happens either way, but that's for another post.  The fact is, higher internet speeds will mean a lot to marketers here in America as higher speeds will likely mean more that a browser and the subsequent user's computer can handle.  Basically it will allow for greater innovation when it comes to what we can do online to show-off our products in any way (HD streaming video, etc.).  Not to mention it will likely drive internet use way up and create larger audiences for your content.  Either way, this potential is a long way off.   
  • Ensuring that the U.S. is leading the world in mobile innovation by making 500 MHz of spectrum newly available for licensed and unlicensed use.
    • To Marketers: If you are one of those marketers that sees mobile devices as the way of the future for marketers (hint: you are right and everyone else is wrong) this one is huge. I am expecting this is intending to further cover the nation with 3G (which is supposed to be part of their plan)While this wouldn't do anything other than allow for more use of mobile internet in more place, I am wont to believe that mobile developers would go barking mad trying to develop new applications and capabilities to better use apps and capabilities would most certainly be part of this as well.
  • Moving the nation's broadband adoption rates from roughly 65 percent to more than 90 percent, and ensuring that every child in America is digitally literate by the time he or she leaves high school.
    • To Marketers:  In the short run, probably nothing.  In the long-run this doesn't point to anything positive or negative, and, quite frankly, it probably doesn't point to anything you didn't know already.  Everything is moving online, and, if the FCC is successful here, it will mean marketing will likely move more so online than already is too.  But this wouldn't be considered a success until many years from now and probably isn't much of something that the FCC would really have a part in anyway (other than helping supply schools with proper connections.
  • Bringing affordable broadband to rural communities, schools, libraries and vulnerable populations by transitioning existing Universal Service Fund support from analog technologies to digital infrastructure.
    • To Marketers:  Again, like some of the other points, this would merely increase an online presence across the U.S. and, subsequently, increase the potential audience for any online marketing plans. 
  • Promoting competition across the broadband ecosystem by ensuring greater transparency, removing barriers to entry and conducting market-based analysis with quality data on price, speed and availability.
    • To Marketers:  This one is for the telecoms (or more specifically, the people that are knowledgeable on net neutrality and are either on the fence or slightly opposed to it).  I have very little info on this right now, but plan on updating with whatever specifics the FCC is proposing that will actually do this.
  • Enhancing the safety of the American people by providing every first responder with access to a nationwide, wireless, interoperable public safety network.
    • To Marketers:  Again, this really won't affect you as a marketer too much, but its a functional plan...probably.
 The basics of this is that most of what they are proposing is set to expand the internet across the U.S. to be available to more people regardless of socio-economic and geographic status which would likely be a very good thing for marketers.  But please remember that this is the tip of the iceberg for when it comes to what realistic net neutrality plans are.  Please comment with questions or criticisms of what I'm saying here so that I can either expand on anything that needs it or recant and give praise where praise is due (namely to you). 

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