Spectrum crisis is just a part of the problem for universal broadband, says FCC

Early in October, Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski said there is a wireless spectrum crisis approaching, and that our wireless broadband consumption is growing so explosively that it would take more than 50 years to deliver the necessary spectrum at our current pace.

But an FCC task force has concluded that this is only a single part of the problem if we want to provide America with robust and affordable broadband. Over the last few weeks, the task force has identified critical gaps in policymaking, government programs, and trade practices in all corners of the broadband ecosystem.

Today, the Commission has put forth a list of these gaps, which narrows the main problems down to seven major points.


1.) USF Gap: The Federal Universal Service Fund (USF) does not support broadband deployment and adoption, despite consuming more than $7 billion in annual telecommunications subsidies.

2.) Broadband Adoption Gap: as broadband access increases, those without access (based on geography or income) are at an ever greater disadvantage.

3.) Consumer Information Gap: Users don't know their actual broadband performance, and providers aren't supplying them with that information.

4.) Spectrum Gap: The spectrum crisis Genachowski warned of in October, where wireless demand far outstrips supply.

5.) Deployment Gap: There is an extremely high cost for rural broadband and "middle mile" solutions.

6.) TV Set-top Box Innovation Gap: Most set-top boxes still haven't integrated with IP-based technology even though they present a prime opportunity to deliver broadband to the masses.

7.) Personal Data Gap: Users need to have more control over their own information and greater privacy/security.

Before the Commission can submit its National Broadband Plan to Congress in February, it will work on devising solutions for these gaps.

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