US Considering Free Broadband Access

US Considering Free Broadband Access

The US Federal Communications Commission is reportedly considering a plan to allot part of the wireless spectrum to free broadband connections.

In a statement delivered at the Digital Inclusion Summit today, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps outlined potential means to achieve the goal of free or very low-cost broadband access. Copps stated that a possible way to make broadband access universal and cheap would be to “consider use of spectrum for a free or a very low cost wireless broadband service.”

Has the US decided to take the Finnish route and make broadband access a universal right?

Not quite, but close. Politicians, especially Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), have long trumpeted the need for universal broadband access. As Copps said in his remarks today, “there is no greater benefit that broadband can deliverthan its ability to help inform our civic dialogue and stimulate citizen engagement in our

And yet, the goal of universal broadband has remained out of reach. In 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported that this type of plan was approved, with rollout scheduled for 2010. However, that plan had stalled. While it’s not clear yet, it could be that this plan has been rubber stamped again.

Copps said that the details of this plan will be revealed in the National Broadband Plan, slated to be revealed next week. Until then, it’s tough to know what tack the FCC will take to make free broadband happen. Still, it’s a good sign to see this issue back before the committee again, and hopefully this time it will be successful.

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