The FCC took its first steps this week in implementing provisions of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) with the adoption of a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) that seeks comment on a national plan to extend high-speed broadband access to all Americans. In addition to providing $7.2 billion in economic stimulus funds for broadband projects to be administered by the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Agriculture, the ARRA requires the FCC to present a comprehensive plan on national broadband deployment to Congress by next February. At the FCC’s monthly open meeting on Wednesday, acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps predicted, “if we do our jobs right, this will be the most formative and, I believe, transformative proceeding ever” in the history of the FCC. Calling for broad participation in the proceeding from all segments of the U.S. population, Copps said the NOI will seek comment on a variety of issues that include (1) the value of open broadband networks, (2) the definition and measurement of “affordable” broadband service, (3) approaches to spectrum access, (4) improvement of digital literacy, and (5) threats to online security and the protection of privacy on the Internet. Citing newly-released United Nations statistics that give the U.S. a dismal 17th place worldwide ranking in terms of advanced service speed and uptake, Copps admitted, “we have a long way to go to get highspeed value-laden broadband out to all citizens.” FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell agreed that action is needed to improve broadband network speed and access yet stressed that advances in the U.S. broadband sector during the past decade were facilitated by the “lifting of legacy regulation from broadband.” As such, McDowell said the plan to be presented to Congress should not include “counterproductive government mandates” that would discourage investment and innovation. While voicing support for the NOI, an official of Verizon Communications echoed McDowell’s concerns, declaring that, given the importance of broadband “to economic growth, job creation, and international competitiveness, creating a climate for investment . . . should be Job One at the FCC.”