FCC expands community access to broadband services in the U.S.

The Federal Communications Commission voted on Thursday to allow communities to use local schools' broadband internet access during non-operating hours. Many schools receive funds for internet access through the E-rate program. However, the FCC's previous rules state that schools receiving E-rate funding must solely use the money for educational purposes.

"As a result, services and facilities purchased by schools using E-rate funding remain largely unused during evenings, weekends, school holidays, and summer breaks.  Waiving the relevant rules will maximize the use of facilities and services supported by E-rate by giving schools the option to open their E-rate funded facilities to members of the public during non-operating hours," as stated in the FCC news release.

FCC officials declared the new order will help adults taking evening classes, people requiring web-based government services, and unemployed individuals looking for jobs online. This is one step toward the National Broadband Plan, which is due to be delivered to Congress by March 17, 2010. The plan "shall seek to ensure that all people of the United States have access to broadband capability and shall establish benchmarks for meeting that goal."

Earlier this week, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski stated he wants home internet speeds of 100 megabits per second to be offered to 100 million homes within ten years.

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It does make sense to leave it up to the schools, when/where they allow access. Whether they'll use it as in the article is another matter... opening up a school costs money, beyond any conflicts with IT & building maintenance, so unless they're already opening up schools [e.g. for evening classes], don't see the FCC waiver being more than PR far as many (most?) school districts are concerned. For general public access libraries have & will continue making ever so much more sense.

Far as any future goals of opening up broadband, making sure everyone has access etc, personally I'm extremely skeptical & overly cautious of the gov... 1st off, our infrastructure is probably not up to the task. Updating that runs into the same problems that's keeping broadband &/or cable competition out of most communities today -- have to negotiate too many "right-of-ways", each with overly high costs, as providers essentially deal with an endless string of local communities acting like fiefdoms. Then in the major cities, having to work around/with existing power & phone lines is a nightmare, since they've been added to & patched for decades (if not a century).

It's doable -- just not so much if those responsible are some gov bureaucracy handing out generous contracts to favored, well-connected contractors. I'm afraid these sorts of schemes coming out of the FCC will raise what we pay for broadband &/or cable now, & reduce service/bandwidth as they struggle with how to pay for their own inefficiency [& kickbacks?]. I'm also leery of some gov favored/sanctioned company becoming a monopoly, controlling most all access & charging whatever they see fit, or maybe worse, having an inept gov agency become that monopoly. I would love to have low-cost or free broadband access for everyone -- I just fear (terribly) what that great ideal will mutate into once our gov gets done with it... imagine paying 3X the price for a censored web, & on TV, 100+ channels, all PBS.

Tarrant64 said,
Why 10 years...
Because the US government sucks donkey balls!

No whoops, I mean US tax payers! Seems most of us don't give a **** really! So maybe we will in 10 years? Yeah, sure.

That will be the day when your average user knows what a web browser is, what google is (and how to use it, more than just typing in a word and clicking enter), how to turn on a new computer without having to call tech support (cause the average idiot does not even know were the power button is or that you must plug it in).


Never thought I'd say this.. but damn I'm beginning to like the FCC. lol ...wow... that felt weird typing it.