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Eugene Huang: The Four Questions Answered by the National Broadband Plan

national_broadband_networkIn prepared remarks for MIT’s Center for Future Civic Media, Director of Government Operations for the National Broadband Task Force at the FCC, Eugene Huang, commented on the goals of the FCC’s forthcoming National Broadband Plan.

He said, “the ambitious goal of the plan is to ensure that every American has access to broadband capability.” He outlined four questions that the plan will answer:

  1. How will broadband infrastructure be deployed throughout the United States?
  2. How will we ensure adoption of broadband services in the United States?
  3. What is the status of broadband deployment in the United States?
  4. How will Americans use broadband services in the future?

The first two questions, according to Mr. Huang, will be answered “through an analysis of the most efficient and effective means to deploy broadband – either via wired, wireless, or satellite infrastructure –to ensure that all people of the United States have access to broadband.”

The third question has “led to a detailed strategy for adoption of broadband services, including achieving affordable access to broadband services, as well as maximum utilization of broadband infrastructure and service by the public.”

To address the last question, Mr. Huang said the FCC has “looked at how broadband will advance specific national priorities, including government performance and civic participation, public safety and homeland security, community development, health care delivery, energy independence and efficiency, education, worker training, private sector investment, entrepreneurial activity, job creation and economic growth.”

He elaborated, “Blair Levin, our director, assembled a task force of staff from backgrounds including government employees, individuals from the private sector, technologists, consultants, venture capitalists, MBA’s, PhD’s, and, yes, lawyers.”  He described the effort as “the most open, transparent, data-driven process in FCC history.  We’ve attempted to practice what we preach by seeking public input in a variety of ways.”

Mr. Huang said “FCC has worked hard to practice what we preach in terms of civic engagement,” as “transparent, inclusive and participatory” government are goals of the plan, FCC has sought “public input in a variety of ways.”

“The FCC has also made extensive use of social media and crowd sourcing tools during this process,” said Mr. Huang. ” The FCC launched a presence on Facebook, twitter and other social media sites.  Since launching on Twitter last fall, we have amassed more than 330,000 twitter followers, making us the third highest of any government agency – behind only the White House and the CDC.”

Mr. Huang said the plan’s recommendations will advance America’s goals in “five distinct areas – open and transparent government, public media, social media, engaging citizens in government innovation, and modernizing our democratic processes.”  He believes that “that broadband has the potential to transform civic engagement,” but “this transformation will not occur on its own. It will take a commitment from all of us – our government, our elected leaders, and the American people – to renew our democracy in a broadband enabled twenty-first century.”

The National Broadband Plan is due next month.

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