WASHINGTON, DC—The future never looked faster. If the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) gets its way, by decade's end the entire nation will be wired for speed and not because of coffee. The new mantra of the commission is high-speed broadband internet access for everyone, but it won't happen without a fight or three.
Tuesday the FCC will deliver to Congress an ambitious 10-year plan that "is likely to generate debate in Washington and a lobbying battle among the telecommunication giants, which over time may face new competition for customers. Already, the broadcast television industry is resisting a proposal to give back spectrum the government wants to use for future mobile service," The New York Times reports.
In addition to the controvertial idea to set aside (and then auction off) up to 500 megahertz of on-air spectrum for mobile, the plan also includes subsidies for companies that invest in hard-wiring rural areas and also includes the development of a universal set-top box that combines internet and cable access.
Several such devices already exist, so it remains to be seen whether the commission plans to encourage or subsidize the use of existing boxes, or, as is more likely the case, is positioning itself to have a leadership role in the development of practices and protocols for the licensing of content over IPTV.
Each part of the overall plan will be met with opposition from entrenched powers determined to keep the world from turning or use their current leverage to ensure they stay relevant as it does. "Already," the Times says, "there are questions about the extent to which the FCC has jurisdiction over Internet providers."
Still, some details of the plan seem right on target, including reforms to the Universal Service Fund, which spends $8 billion a year from telephone surcharges on phone lines for rural and poor people and internet access to schools, libraries and rural clinics.
"By reducing the phone subsidies over time," said Colin Crowell, a senior counselor to [FCC chairman Julius] Genachowski," the fund could instead 'support broadband access and affordability,' especially in remote locations where private companies have little incentive to build networks." $8 billion could also buy a lot of Skype accounts.
Another exciting mainstay of the plan is the 100 Squared initiative, which will equip "100 million households with high-speed Internet gushing through their pipes at 100 megabits a second by the end of this decade. According to comScore, the average subscriber now receives speeds of three to four megabits a second."
That sort of sizzling, omnipresent speed also holds a myriad of mouth-watering opportunities for adult entertainment, to say the least, as long as it doesn't get itself banished to some sort of online ghetto.