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  • (01. January 2010., 10:27:49)

Author Topic: FCC Chairman: Everybody in US must be in on "broadband revolution"  (Read 3004 times)

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In a room packed with representatives from just about every major telecom-related company in North America, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin appeared via satellite to deliver one of the keynote addresses at the annual NXTcomm telecom conference. Martin made the case for increased investment in broadband infrastructure, talked about the importance of the upcoming 700MHz auction in creating a wireless broadband infrastructure, and expressed his hope that new franchising regulations will lead to lowered cable prices.

Martin's keynote was facilitated by Walter McCormick, president of the United States Telecom Association and another telecom industry executive and consisted of a question-and-answer session covering topics of interest to both the telecom industry and consumers. Throughout his appearance, Martin was very matter of fact and appeared to tailor his remarks towards his audience. He stressed the need for increased broadband availability in the US, saying that the FCC's role is to create a regulatory climate where this can best happen. 
Deregulation and "dumb networks"

Addressing the topic of the FCC's policies on deregulation, which have resulted in rulings that DSL and cable providers do not have to lease their lines to competing companies, Martin said that he believes the FCC's actions have provided incentives for companies to invest in broadband. "I think that our policies have been a success," Martin said. "Most importantly, we're seeing broadband adoption across all demographics. It's critical that we make sure that everyone in the country can take advantage of the broadband revolution."

Martin also addressed the question of network neutrality, responding to a question on what his response was to those pushing to legislate "dumb networks." He said that it's important for the FCC to "ensure that there are rules in place to facilitate innovation."
"It's crucial to ensure that people are able to recoup some of the cost of their investments," Martin noted. "[Providers] should have the flexibility to offer various tiers of service." At the same time, investment and innovation needs to be facilitated and encouraged on the "edge of the network." Martin said that the FCC needs to "ensure that consumers will be able to access all of the content on the Internet and attach their own devices to the network as long as they do not damage the network."
Local franchising

Local video franchises were another hot topic, with McCormick asking the Chairman his views on what the Commission's role is in this "competitive video environment." Noting that cable prices have more than doubled over the past ten years while the price of Internet access and phone services has dropped during the same period, Martin said that the FCC's role is to do everything it can to facilitate increased video competition.

"Local franchises are inhibiting the ability of telecoms to make their infrastructure investments," said Martin, apparently referring to the often-contentious negotiations between telecoms, cable companies, and local governments over fiber deployments. "We need to make sure we're doing everything we can to facilitate video competition," argued Martin, noting that investment in video infrastructure will lead to better options for broadband.
Spectrum auction

Saying that the 700MHz spectrum auction is the "highest-profile issue facing the FCC," McCormick asked how the Chairman saw the auction spurring broadband adoption. "The FCC needs to make sure that spectrum is available for companies to create wireless networks so that consumers can take advantage of wireless broadband," replied Martin. He envisions a seamless connection between wired and wireless connections and envisions a "wireless broadband pipe" into the home. Referring to the Congressional mandate for the auctions to begin no later than January 2008, he said that "we need to get the spectrum out into the marketplace quickly."

Martin concluded his telecom-industry-friendly remarks by saying that one of the FCC's priorities is to continue facilitating and encouraging investment. "I'm excited by the opportunities technology are bringing to consumers," he concluded.

Consumers will be excited too—if the benefits Martin envisions for them come to fruition. For all the talk about consumers during his speech, it's clear that the FCC is relying on the telecom industry to make those consumer benefits a reality.

Ars Technica
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