The FCC’s newly-unveiled National Broadband Plan could have a sweeping impact on the wireless industry, public safety and the Universal Service Fund (USF).
The plan’s recommendations include auctioning off 300 MHz of spectrum for the wireless industry within five years; deploying a nationwide, interoperable public safety mobile broadband network; and shifting $15.5 billion away from the USF to support broadband deployment in unserved areas.
The 376-page document also recommends auctioning off an additional 200 MHz of spectrum within the next 10 years and repurposing already-licensed spectrum through and auction process.
The FCC also wants to increase broadband adoption by low-income residents through a proposed expansion of the Lifeline and Link-Up programs, as well as licensing a block of spectrum with a condition to offer free or low-cost broadband service.
If the plan’s recommendations are adopted, there will be major changes in store for the USF. The FCC recommends shifting $15.5 billion from the fund to support affordable broadband and voice service with at least 4 Mbps on the downlink. The agency also wants to create a separate fund to expand 3G deployments in under-served areas.
Public safety will also get a boost through the plan, which allocates $6.5 billion over the next 10 years to deploy a nationwide, interoperable mobile broadband network for public safety officers.
The plan also includes recommendations for promoting investment in healthcare, education, the smart grid, civic engagement and homeland security. The FCC also recommends a “comprehensive review” of wholesale competition rules and quick action on data roaming charges.
In a statement, CTIA President and CEO Steve Largent said the industry association and its member companies were “extremely pleased that spectrum is recognized as being pivotal to the National Broadband Plan.”
“Based on the executive summary, it is clear the Broadband team recognized the importance of the mobile Internet to the economy and to meeting many national priorities,” he said. “We applaud their commitment to providing everyone equal access to the most advanced wireless communications.”
Filed Under: Industry regulations