Reporting on the status of the national broadband plan, members of the FCC’s broadband team offered a list of recommendations on Wednesday for addressing gaps in the availability, adoption, and usage of broadband services. The interim report, presented at final FCC open meeting of 2009, is intended to lay the framework for the finalization of the broadband plan that the FCC is required to submit to Congress in February. At the next FCC open meeting scheduled on January 20, broadband team members are expected to deliver a similar report on options for expanding the role of broadband in advancing “national purposes” that are specified in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), such as education and health care. Although some of the proposals outlined by the team, such as the assignment of TV broadcast spectrum for wireless broadband use and the allocation of high-cost universal service funds for broadband support, came as no surprise, the staff offered a range of new options. Included among these are proposals to (1) permit low-income households to use Lifeline funds for broadband, (2) institute a “dig once” policy that would cut broadband deployment costs by requiring the coordination of provider efforts to install infrastructure, and (3) enable municipalities “to create broadband options where circumstances warrant.” With respect to improving spectrum access, the team urged resolution of pending FCC proceedings that involve advanced wireless services, television white spaces and the 700 MHz D-block as well as the allocation of government-use and mobile satellite spectrum for terrestrial broadband services. Acknowledging that opportunities for public funding are limited, Blair Levin, the director of the FCC’s Omnibus Broadband Initiative, stressed that private sector investment will be “essential” in achieving broadband goals. Levin also said that “better utilization of existing assets” should rank as the first choice for many of the policy options to be presented in the broadband plan.