The Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") released its long-awaited National Broadband Plan (the "Plan") on March 16, 2010. The Plan emphasizes that encouraging and facilitating access to infrastructure, such as utility poles, is critical to the continued deployment and enhancement of broadband facilities in America. The Plan states that, "[c]ollectively, the expense of obtaining permits and leasing pole attachments and rights-of-way can amount to 20% of the cost of fiber optic deployment." Plan at 109. The Plan notes that "[t]hese costs can be reduced directly by cutting fees" and "can also be lowered indirectly by expediting processes and decreasing the risks and complexities that companies face as they deploy broadband network infrastructure." Plan at 110.
A broad coalition of telecommunications companies and organizations has called upon President-elect Barack Obama to prioritize broadband deployment and stimulate investment in broadband services. This large coalition – which includes AT&T, Verizon, Google, Alcatel-Lucent, organizations representing the cable and wireless industries, organizations representing state and local governments, as well as consumer groups – emphasizes both infrastructure deployment and demand stimulation to foster broadband investment, adoption and utilization. Specifically, the coalition advocates, among other things, expanding the coverage of broadband networks to areas where there are currently none, obtaining higher speed connections in areas where networks already exist, and providing subsidies to low-income individuals to purchase a computer or pay for a broadband connection. To achieve these objectives, the group favors tax incentives, grants, low-cost loans and loan guarantees, and universal service subsidies.
There is a policy debate going on in Washington that will determine how the Internet is used and regulated in the future. If your business depends upon the Internet, this