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NCTA Offers Comments On Broadband Plan

The FCC won't be able to get broadband to every American, or meet any other of Congress' goals, if its grand broadband plan discourages broadband investment. It also should not get bogged down in the openness debate.

That was the message from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association in the second round of comments on that plan, which were due to the FCC by Tuesday night.  The bottom lines for the cable group were deployment and adoption, and beyond that, the FCC should get out of the way and let the industry continue writing its broadband success story.

NCTA pointed out that the folks doing the broadband investing had already ponied up hundreds of billions of dollars for broadband, saying that was one of "many successes" that the FCC "must acknowledge." Others included increasing speeds and a "thriving market" for applications.

As to proposals by some commenters that the FCC should adopt "significant new regulation" of the Internet, NCTA said the commission must recognize that is the wrong approach if the commission wants to fill deployment gaps or promote adoption of broadband.

NCTA gave a shout-out to the commission for taking an "unconventional" approach to the broadband plan, which includes a series of public workshops on various aspects of the plan. "NCTA applauds the Commission for taking a creative approach to such an important set of issues." said the group in its filing.

NCTA asked the FCC to take the following four steps:

1. An open and transparent process. That includes putting out a draft of the report for comment before issuing the final report in February. NCTA also wants it to make sure the data analysis being contracted out to Harvard's Berkman Center is also subject to public review and comment before it is used to help prepare the plan.

2. The FCC should keep its eye on the ball, which is 100% broadband availability.

3. The commission should also establish programs to promote broadband adoption, particularly in underserved populations.

4. Keep the network "openness" debate out of the proceeding. "[M]any of the regulatory proposals related to “openness” on the Internet do not directly bear on the deployment and adoption of broadband (except to the extent that they will deter investment)," said NCTA, "and need not be addressed in order to develop a National Broadband Plan by February 2010."