March 16, 2010 Last Updated 8:45 pm

FCC outlines its ‘National Broadband Plan’ to Congress; for publishers, more broadband, more speed means online publishing becomes more like broadcasting

Originally, the term “broadcasting” referred to sowing seeds by hand over an area. Then it was taken up by radio pioneers as a way of describing their radio signals — signals that travelled very far, in the early days, and were received by a small group of radio enthusiasts.

Today, the Internet is becoming the broadcasting medium of choice, and the FCC’s “national broadband plan”, given to Congress today, is another move in making the Internet a medium that will more effectively distribute audio and video content.

The broadband plan outlines some lofty goals:

  • Goal 1: At least 100 million U.S. homes should have affordable access to actual download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second and actual upload speeds of at least 50 megabits per second.
  • Goal 2: The United States should lead the world in mobile innovation, with the fastest and most extensive wireless networks of any nation.
  • Goal 3: Every American should have affordable access to robust broadband service, and the means and skills to subscribe if they so choose.
  • Goal 4: Every community should have affordable access to at least 1 Gbps broadband service to anchor institutions such as schools, hospitals and government buildings.
  • Goal 5: To ensure the safety of Americans, every first responder should have access to a nationwide public safety wireless network.
  • Goal 6: To ensure that America leads in the clean energy economy, every American should be able to use broadband to track and manage their real-time energy consumption.

The FCC, of course, can not wave a magic wand and instantly upgrade the nation’s communications infrastructure.  But it is clear that between the moves taking place in the private sector, and the position of the Federal government, we are looking at bandwidth and broadband speeds becoming a priority.

An FCC initiative, broadband performance standards.  ☞

One of the most important parts of the FCC plan is the freeing up of spectrum. How this will effect online publishers is obvious: the more the Internet is seen as an audio/video format the more sites will be expected to resemble television, and less print.  This does not mean text based Internet publishing will go away, data after all is still a valuable commodity. But by promoting greater broadband availability, as well as speed, the trend towards a more multimedia capable Internet continues to progress.

The FCC’s report, like any government document, is a monster. Whole sections are dedicated to child online safety and national security issues. But there are other areas of interest to both telecommunications companies, as well as the publishing community. To download the document in PDF form go to this page — you can download individual chapters or the entire report. Not exactly light weekend reading, but important material, nonetheless.

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