• On Thursday, October 21, 2010, staff from the FCC’s Consumer and Government Affairs Bureau and the Office of Engineering and Technology will hold a meeting to “discuss technical methods for performance testing of residential fixed Internet service and procedures to remotely acquire and analyze such data.” This meeting relates to the FCC’s prior proposal to measure residential broadband and request for comment on a proposed methodology. See Consumer Information and Disclosure Public Notice CG Docket No. 09-158, CC Docket No. 98-170, WC Docket No. 04-36, Public Notice, DA 10-670 (rel. April 20, 2010), available here. The meeting will take place in Room 7-B516 at FCC Headquarters, 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC.
  • At its Open Meeting held October 14, 2010, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposing a new Mobility Fund as part of the overall reform of the Universal Service Fund. The NPRM proposes a one-time expenditure through a “market-based mechanism to target consumers in areas without advanced mobile services, ensuring that America gets the most bang for the USF buck.” Specifically, the NPRM proposes (1) to use $100 million to $300 million from the USF to create the Mobility Fund, (2) to identify the areas unserved by 3G mobile wireless services, and (3) to use a reverse auction – in which the potential providers of services in identified areas without 3G service compete for support from the Mobility Fund by proposing the lowest amount of USF support they would require to serve areas that are currently unserved – to determine which providers and geographic areas will get support. The NPRM also seeks comment on whether to make support available to any unserved area or only a limited set of unserved areas, and the minimum performance and coverage requirements that should be established for the service to be supported by the Mobility Fund. The NPRM is available here.

Commissioners generally praised the proposal, with Chairman Genachowski calling it the “next significant step in reforming and modernizing the Universal Service Fund.” Commissioner Copps highlighted the importance of mobile broadband by noting that during his recent trip to China, he was almost never without a 3G signal, even when traveling down the Yangtze River surrounded by mountains. FCC Commissioner Robert M. McDowell praised the NRPM but still had questions about the proposed auction system and how to ensure that the most remote areas are served.

  • The website www.successful.com and the International Economic Development Council recently released a survey of economic development professionals on the economic impact of broadband. Over 90 percent of those surveyed thought the National Broadband Plan goal of 4 Mbps for rural areas is inadequate for impacting economic development outcomes. In addition, “over 55 percent believe speeds of 100 Mbps (the FCC’s goal for 100 million mostly urban and suburban households) or more are needed, but within three years, not 10 years as some federal agencies support.” The survey is available here.