SIEPR Policy Brief, Stanford University, February 2010
This paper considers problems the FCC will face in coming up with a national broadband plan for the United States.
The best way for the FCC to support broadband access is to encourage competition between broadband services, empowering consumers to choose the service that fits their needs.
Policymakers debate the extent to which the FCC should be involved in broadband policy.
Ten years after broadband service became available, 63 percent of households subscribe to some form of broadband and 95 percent have access to some kind of wireless broadband.
To devise broadband policy, the FCC must define how fast a network must be to be considered “broadband.” Consumers and different regions vary in their preferences for speed, reliability, and price.
The FCC must try to spread service to “all people” in the United States. Some people may not want broadband, the cost of providing broadband to others can be very high.
Federal policies that would make more electromagnetic spectrum available to be used by wireless services would be helping in supporting the spread and growth of broadband. This might involve releasing government spectrum and/or spectrum now used by television services to be used by other services.
Competition policy could be used to help solve problems arising from the dominance of broadband services by large firms like AT&T and Verizon.
Policymakers might helping consumers learn about different broadband services by requiring certain disclosures in advertising.