FCC chairman Julius Genachowski sent a clear signal on
Tuesday to the industry that the FCC has its eye on usage-based pricing and its
impact on broadband use.
He reiterated that usage-based pricing can be a useful tool
-- the FCC's network neutrality rule order cited that upside -- and was
consistent with "driving efficiency, investment, and faster and more
robust network infrastructure," he also suggested those tools could be
In a speech, "Winning the Global Broadband Race,"
at VOX Media headquarters in Washington, the chairman made a point of saying
that consumers need sufficient "monthly" broadband capacity so that
families don't have to fight over who gets to do homework or have a remote
health checkup or stream video, and "monthly" capacity to make sure
that the e-commerce goods flow freely.
He said he understood the challenge to ISPs of managing the
growing demands on their networks while earning enough to invest in upgrades
and expansion, both FCC goals. But he also said he expects monthly usage limits
to rise and the cost-per-bit of those usage-based plans to decrease as
technology improves. He also said he continued to have concerns about:
"practices that harm competition, including from over-the-top providers
[he did not name any names]; unnecessarily depress broadband usage; or reduce
incentives to increase broadband speeds and capacity."
In the speech, the chairman laid out his vision of fast,
ubiquitous broadband, available when and wherever people needed it, a goal that
could be reached by investing in infrastructure, promoting competition and
protecting the open Internet.