Eshoo Pushes FCC Broadband Plan 2.0

Rep Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) wants the FCC to update its 2009 National Broadband Plan. 

Eshoo Thursday (July 9) introduced the National Broadband Plan for the Future Act, which would require the FCC to update the plan with an eye toward both how the plan has delivered on its goal of, as the title said, "Connecting American, and how the coronavirus pandemic has "changed the online lives of Americans." 

It is by now a given that COVID-19 has dramatically raised the stakes on closing the digital divide, which was. The new plan would "assess the nation’s progress against the original Plan, provide detailed proposals to further expand internet access, and analyze how Americans’ unprecedented reliance on broadband during the coronavirus pandemic will shape the country moving forward.  

“Universal access to reliable, affordable, and high-quality internet is essential in today’s world, and it’s especially needed as we conduct more of our personal and professional lives online during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Eshoo. 

The FCC would have to explain how the revamped plan would "advance consumer welfare, civic participation, public safety and homeland security, community development, health care delivery, energy independence and efficiency, education, worker training, private sector investment, entrepreneurial activity, job creation and economic growth, among other "national purposes."  

Eshoo has the backing of the plan's original author, Blair Levin, now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “An update of the 2010 National Broadband Plan is long overdue, and with the COVID Crisis demonstrating the importance of abundant, affordable broadband to economic resiliency and social progress, such an update is also essential,” Levin said of the new bill. 

There is a similar bill that was introduced in the Senate by Ed Markey (D-Mass.). 

FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks called the broadband plan update "a great idea," adding that he was glad to see it focus on affordability.  

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.