The New America Foundation has invited people to post their opinions and ideas regarding what a national broadband strategy should entail – in 250 characters or less. One would hope that should the New America Foundation ever have to seek medical advice they will up the character count.
To more fully address this extremely complicated issue, this article will attempt to address many different aspects of this subject, outlining how this program should be administrated, in my opinion, of course.
Preliminary steps -
Legislate that all broadband backbone assets, as defined by fiber and high speed RF data transportation devices be reported where they can be collated, mapped and used to build a picture of what is available for use. To increase the usefulness of this map all vertical assets should be included, which would include towers that meet code with heights that exceed 100 feet, rooftops that would be useful in providing both RF backhaul sites as well as wireless distribution and mountaintops where it would be feasible to locate either RF backhaul or end user distribution. Any company found not complying with the reporting mandates will be fined and these fines will be added to the broadband infrastructure funding pool.
This information will be used to create a map of what areas have high speed backbone connections already in place and which locations do not. For the purposes of this discussion high speed backbone is defined as 10 Gbps or above.
Now, create a map overlay that shows where the existing backbone infrastructure could be easily extended using the vertical assets that are immediately available. It is understood that the cost to deploy RF transportation using already existing vertical assets will be significantly less expensive and substantially quicker than building fiber.
Next, create another map overlay that shows how these proposed RF backbone locations can also be equipped with wireless last mile connectivity as well as mobile connectivity where either technology is applicable.
Conduct a full auditing of the spectrum allocation table will be with the aim of identifying unused and underused bands. In addition, all commercial bands, currently in use, will be reexamined as to the continued need for this exclusive license as opposed to reabsorbing the spectrum and releasing it for use in broadband infrastructure. A specific example of this is the frequency used by taxis in this country which would now be able to utilize the 802.11p short range vehicle communications band instead. As a national strategy, let’s move towards a complete revamping of the way spectrum is allocated so that all of the tiny slices of spectrum are all recalled, critical licensed bands are moved out of the large swaths of spectrum we will assemble and those large swaths be divided into licensed and license exempt (if you’ll pardon the bastardization of the term) ultrawideband slices of spectrum which will power the next generation of Internet based communications for our country. As a bonus, this move will create a huge demand for all kinds of equipment to replace the now obsoleted radio devices that are no longer usable due to the change in spectrum allocation.
Any company that operates in backbone transportation services will be prohibited from supplying any services. This mandate will include both wired and wireless connection providers, including cell phone service. A company will be required to either provide data transportation or end user connectivity services but cannot provide both. This will also hold true for both owners and investors which will be allowed to participate in only one segment of the industry.
Using the newly created maps, all broadband infrastructure funding to be handed out must be used to maximize the number of unserved people who will now receive broadband service. This is a crucial metric to apply to this first round of broadband funding so as to assure that the greatest efficiency will be achieved.
The aggressive use of eminent domain should be employed to seize (with fair market compensation) unused fiber strands owned by any private entity so as to immediately put these assets into use. In cases where fiber has been abandoned, or written off as fully depreciated assets, as in the case of railroad deployments or utility companies, these assets will now revert to the US government’s ownership where they will be tested and then put up for sale with the resulting funds to be used exclusively to develop more broadband infrastructure.
The second phase of this construction will entail the building out of fiber to every location in the US, with a specific population density yet to be defined. The wireless network that is already in place will be maintained and continue to operate as a secondary network, primarily used for mobile connectivity but also as a failover.
With respect to paying for this new infrastructure construction, no new taxes or direct fees will be shouldered by individuals or corporations during the first construction phase. The money has already been allocated through the ARRA bill.
The funding for Phase two and any subsequent phases will be generated based on the taxes paid by the people who were newly hired due to this construction. As such, the IRS will be required to track every new (non-replacement) hire that is added to the Internet infrastructure industry, including the manufacturers of all components used in this construction, and report the money paid into the federal tax coffers. This money will now go exclusively towards the building of more infrastructure projects.
Congress will pass legislation that creates a $10 per vehicle assessment on every new automobile, beginning in 2010. These vehicles will be equipped with 802.11p wireless communications capability and this assessment will be collected to provide funding for the 802.11p network infrastructure. In addition, all federal funding for any RF or communications networks of any kind, E-911 included, will now be channeled into the Internet infrastructure funding pool as will all fees collected from licensing spectrum. Universal Service Funds will now be paid into the Internet funding pool and all funds will now be dispersed to ensure that every American will have suitable high speed access (as defined by 20 Mbps symmetrical) with a target rate will not exceed two hours of the current minimum wage for basic connectivity but where optional services can be provided at going market rates.
And to paraphrase Groucho Marx, these are my beliefs – and if you don’t like them, I have others.