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FCC national broadband plan: a vision for the nation

The FCC gets the national broadband plan largely right, pushing private-sector competition while helping hard-to-reach populations.

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A national broadband plan for America argues that high-speed Internet service is as vital to America’s economy as electric power. Everyone should have access to it. Everyone should be able to afford it.

As anyone who writes a school report, looks for a job, buys something on eBay, or watches videos on YouTube knows, that’s a pretty easy case to make. The Federal Communications Commission does so in its National Broadband Plan. The hefty document was sent to Congress Tuesday. The question is, how does America go from 200 million broadband users at home to adding another 100 million (just about everyone) by 2020?

That’s the goal that the FCC sets for the nation, along with a huge jump in Internet speed. Fortunately, the commission understands that the United States got this far mostly through the drive of private-sector innovation and competition. Indeed the distance traveled is astonishing: a decade ago only 8 million Americans had broadband at home.

It looks like the FCC wants to keep riding this horse (clicking this mouse?). It sees its role as ensuring “robust competition” to help lower costs and increase access. One of its suggestions: Free up supply for use by wireless service providers through a voluntary auction of TV spectrum.

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