Look for the FCC to get a lot more oversight of its national
broadband plan (NBP) from the House Subcommittee on Communications, according
to a memo sent to Democratic staffers that circulated last Friday (April 16).
The briefing memo, for an April 21 hearing, "The
National Broadband Plan: Deploying Quality Broadband Services to the Last
Mile" which is focusing on the "broadband availability gap,"
says that hearing is one of "a series of hearings on specific proposals in
the NBP," the subcommittee is teeing up.
On March 25, the subcommittee held its first hearing on the
plan in its entirely, but now it also wants to drill down to particular
proposals and sections, in this case chapters 4, 6 and 8 on availability. The
FCC will have a number of action items for Congress as part of the plan,
including potentially money to speed the migration of universal service from
phone to broadband and incentive auctions for freeing up more spectrum for
wireless broadband applications. The commission sees wireless as a key
broadband player going forward.
Witnesses for the April 21 hearing, according to the memo
(no witness list had been publicly posted at press time), will be Sharon
Gillett, chief of the FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau; David Villano,
assistant administrator of the telecommunications program at the USDA (the Department
of Agriculture is handing out broadband stimulus grants and loans); Joe Garcia,
regional VP, National Congress of American Indians; Austin Carroll, GM,
Hopkinsville Electric System; Free Press research director Derek Turner and Mark Dankberg, chairman and CEO of Viasat.
The hearing will look at universal service issues, pole
attachments and rights of way, municipal nets, speed and price issues and
competition policy as it vets the plan's adoption spurs for both underserved
and unserved communities.