Cable Ops, MMTC and Microsoft Among Those Weighing In on Broadband Rollout

Advice comes in to FCC on where to concentrate rural deployment efforts

The FCC continued to get plenty of advice from the industry Wednesday evening on where to concentrate its efforts on getting broadband to rural areas.

Two weeks ago, the FCC asked for comment on a plan it must come up with in coordination with the Department of Agriculture. It is a separate plan from a more comprehensive plan the FCC must also come up with as part of the broadband stimulus grant program. But the two will almost certainly dovetail, as reflected in the comments the FCC is receiving.

Among those weighing in were cable operators, the Minority Media & Telecommunications Council, and Microsoft.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association argued for a three-pronged strategy: first, coordination among agencies; second, the grant process under any program must be transparent; third, the program's goals must be clearly defined and focus on helping folks in underserved areas buy and use existing services--rather than underwrite new competition to those services--and only after that is done upgrade facilities in underserved areas to meet "today's current generation broadband services."

NCAT also argued for reforming the Universal Service Fund by reducing support for areas where competitive service is available and better targeting the money and apply the same pole-attachment rate to all providers.

Microsoft said the priority should be to get the highest-capacity "future-proof" technology to schools, libraries and hospitals

MMTC focused on better broadband mapping to find out just where the greatest need is. It also said that un-served minority rural communities should be the first priority.