The move toward broadband solutions for all seemed to take a step backwards last week when the FCC (News - Alert) prepped for a vote to cap the Universal Services Fund. While some saw it as a way to limit progress for rural areas, the FCC appears excited over new opportunities for modernization.
This InformationWeek report highlighted that FCC chairman Julius Genachowski (News - Alert) refers to the dissolution of the Universal Services Fund (USF) as eliminating a system, “designed for the Alexander Graham Bell era of rotary telephones.” He also stressed the move would modernize the system to align with Steve Jobs’ (News
- Alert) vision for the future of the Internet.
Was this vision outlined and published by Apple for our perusal? Were we given the opportunity to rebuke a broadband solutions plan that is largely supported by big telecom and features antiquated technologies? How is this truly a modernizing movement?
The new plan involves converting the USF into a broadband solutions subsidy fund, with the FCC transitioning away from inter-carrier compensation. According to FCC commissioner Michael J. Copps (News - Alert), this move stops the arbitrage and gamesmanship that plagued inter-carrier compensation for generations. The challenge in this new focus on broadband solutions is that it still focuses too much on voice – something that can come from anywhere once the good broadband is put in place.
While it’s true that new networks must be able to meet performance criteria to enable the use of common applications, such as VoIP, distance learning, remote health monitoring and quality video conferencing – to name just a few; what do the broadband solutions watchdogs and analysts think of this move?
InformationWeek asked James H. Cawley, a commissioner with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, his opinion on the FCC move. Cawley noted he believes the change would allow the FCC to abrogate state laws and subsequently usurp established state authority. He also stressed that this move virtually guarantees second-class status for broadband solutions in rural America.
Industry analyst, Dave Burstein, referred to this move as the FCC giving big telcos a fat subsidy for what they already have, while at the same time cutting small telcos and rural competitors. Ouch. He also refers to this move as a switch in subsidies between carriers, disguised as nothing more than a broadband solutions effort – something we should all want, right?
We should expect to see much more from the FCC in terms of blogs, articles, press releases and more, highlighting that this move is a positive once for broadband solutions. What we should really focus on is execution – demanding that this implementation of broadband solutions actually work and that the money go to all telecoms participating in the build out.
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Stefanie Mosca