The US communications regulator, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is trying to define the meaning of broadband so it can create a $7.2bn national broadband plan by 17 February 2010.
The idea mirrors the UK's Digital Britain process that led to a government commitment to having a national 2Mbps system in place by 2012, but with much more attention to operational details (see panel below). The FCC presently regards any network speed above 786kbps as broadband.
The FCC is seeking public input on three main issues: the general form, characteristics, and performance indicators that should be included in the definition; the thresholds for these performance indicators today; and how the definition should be re-evaluated over time.
In a notice of inquiry published yesterday the FCC said: "Broadband can be defined in myriad ways." To fulfil a legal duty to come up with the national plan it needed to understand what constitutes 'broadband, it said.
The plan is part of the Obama administration's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) to kick start the US economy. At stake is $20bn to $30bn in tax breaks for suppliers, according to BusinessWeek.
Closing date for comments is 8 September.
|The Federal Communications Commission is looking for detailed input on how to define broadband. Specifically it wants input on:
| Form, characteristics, and performance
- the form that a definition of broadband should take;
- whether to develop a single definition, or multiple definitions;
- whether an application-based approach to defining broadband would work, and how such an approach could be expressed in terms of performance indicators;
- the key characteristics and specific performance indicators that should be used to define broadband;
- what segment(s) of the network each performance indicator should measure, such as the local access link to the end user, or an end-to-end path;
- how factors such as latency, jitter, traffic loading, diurnal patterns, reliability, and mobility should specifically be taken into account;
- whether different performance indicators or definitions should be developed based on technological or other distinctions, such as mobility or the provision of the service over a wired or wireless network;
- the feasibility and verifiability of measuring different performance indicators.
- what minimum thresholds should be assigned to the performance indicators;
- the minimum thresholds necessary for broad classes of applications to function properly
- whether the FCC should adopt multiple, escalating tiers of minimum thresholds.
- what ongoing process should be put in place to update the definition, particularly the threshold levels;
- how often should such updates should occur;
- what criteria should be used to adjust thresholds over time;
- how modifications over time to the definition will affect the FCC's ability to collect and publish meaningful data on broadband deployment and adoption.
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