Following is a statement by CWA President Larry Cohen on the National Broadband Plan released today by the Federal Communications Commission:
Washington, D.C. – “The Federal Communications Commission's National Broadband Plan is a good roadmap of the 21st Century broadband networks our nation needs for economic growth and to bring the U.S. up to world class standards in terms of access, speed and affordability.
Until now, the United States has been the only industrialized country without a plan for high speed broadband as the engine for job growth, economic development and empowerment of its citizens. The FCC’s proposed plan is far-reaching, and it needs to be for the U.S. to reach the global standards.
The FCC’s plan sets an ambitious but achievable goal of reaching 100 million households with 100 megabits per second download capability within 10 years. Probably more important are the FCC's interim benchmarks for next generation deployment: that within five years, 100 million U.S. households will have access to 50 mbps down and 20 up. This pushes investment and innovation forward now.
Importantly, several hundred billion dollars in private investment needs to be incented by this plan and subsequent FCC and other governmental action.
Higher speeds and accessibility are among the goals CWA has been pursuing through our Speed Matters program, a four-year campaign to advance the buildout of true high speed broadband and provide universal, affordable access.
The FCC’s plan also acknowledges that many communities and urban areas are underserved and will need support, not only in terms of buildout, but in helping underserved communities realize the promise of the Internet Age. CWA strongly supports the plan for a “digital literacy corps” that will help Americans build their online skills.
Proposed changes to the Universal Service Fund mean that Americans in rural and other underserved communities will have better access to the next generation of communications, high speed Internet, just as the USF so successfully brought telephone service to those areas for the past 70 years.
The plan also includes elements that will help maintain and create quality jobs for network and content workers as well as 500,000 new jobs, and will promote smart grid and other green technologies.
There are many more positives in this plan, including support for one gigabit buildout to community anchor institutions like schools, libraries and rural health care centers and other incentives to accelerate universal deployment and adoption for low-income Americans. There is also an important emphasis on actual, not advertised broadband speeds. Like CWA’s speedtest at speedmatters.org, the FCC has put up a new tool on its website, www.broadband.gov, to enable consumers to measure the actual speed of their Internet connection.
CWA commends Chairman Genachowski and the FCC for this far-reaching plan and we look forward to continuing to be an integral part of this process.”