Boucher: 50mb/20mb Should Be Broadband Plan Baseline

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House Communications Subcommittee chairman Rick Boucher (D-Va.) has told the Federal Communications Commission what he expects to see in its national broadband plan, and that includes minimum speeds for 80% of the country by 2015.

At its Dec. 16 public meeting, the FCC's broadband team provided broad strokes on policy for the plan, due to Congress Feb. 17, but provided no hard and fast proposals.

In a letter to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, Boucher urged him to make universal availability and higher speeds part of that plan.

"The commission should explicitly endorse a goal for minimum broadband speeds, of at least 50 megabits downstream and 20 megabits upstream for 80 percent of the population by 2015," he said. "Without committing to such ambitious, but achievable, levels of speed and service, the promises of telemedicine, distance learning and telecommuting may remain a far-off dream rather than a near-term reality. If we fail to achieve such a goal, our nation will likely remain well behind other industrialized countries that are racing ahead and gaining a competitive advantage by doing so."

"We strongly support Chairman Boucher's call for next-generation broadband networks," said Free Press Policy Director Ben Scott in a statement. "The FCC's task is to construct a blueprint for 21st-century infrastructure policy. We should set goals that will establish the United States in the top ranks of the world's leading broadband nations and bring those world-class networks to all Americans. We should aim to achieve those goals through competition policy at the FCC and targeted public investment from the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture. We commend Chairman Boucher's efforts to bring high-speed communications to all Americans."

The FCC has to deliver the national broadband plan to Congress by Feb. 17, including how broadband applies to telemedicine, energy, emergency communications and education.