Commenting on the National Broadband Policy

by francine Hardaway on May 5, 2009

Wireless broadband in place
Image by Z303 via Flickr

I’m trying very hard to figure out how to comment on the proposed national broadband policy. There are so many moving parts to this puzzle that I don’t know where to begin.  But here are a few questions for the experts:

1)What constitutes true broadband? 768kbs is what the proposal says. Surely that’s not enough for video, music, education, gaming, X-rays.

2)And what about the difference between upstream and down? Now that we’re in Web 2.0 or its successor, people aren’t just downloading, they are uploading.

3)Should it be wired or wireless?

4)Who should pay for it? And how much? Public? Private?

5)And who pays for the schools? The libraries? The Indian reservations? The thinly populated areas not served by cable?

6)Do we need a rural broadband project like the Rural Electrification Project? If so, is broadband a public utility? Do we regulate it like electric utilities?

7) Should certain traffic pay more and be prioritized, like commuters on toll roads?

The debate on all of this started back in 1991 when Al Gore invented the internet, or at least the Information Superhighway, which in America looks more like the Information Back Alley compared to anywhere in Asia or Europe, where they have fast fiber to the curb. We have whatever the major carriers choose to invest in. In certain parts of the country there’s no broadband, and in others there’s no choice of provider.

We should fix this, before we fall even further behind the rest of the world. You should see Singapore, for example. Or Tokyo.

The FCC is asking for our comments, and there’s a nifty spot called Comment Express where you can upload even a white paper on the subject. Don’t forget to add the Docket #09-51 to your comment.

Before you comment, you might want to read what Debi Jones (aka Mobile Jones) has written or what Ars Technica has to say. They’ve been studying this stuff.

It’s not just a question of net neutrality, as if anyone understands what that means. It’s a question of costs, priorities, and national goals. You have until June 8 to weigh in. Don’t complain that you have no voice if you don’t take the time. Small numbers of passionate people can move mountains.

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