The upcoming April 8th open FCC meeting will address several competitive issues, including the formation of a ‘national broadband plan’ and the state of video competition. As a part of the rural broadband stimulus program in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), Congress instructed the FCC to develop a national broadband plan by February 2010. The April meeting will be the first official Notice of Inquiry concerning the formation of this plan. The national plan aims to ensure that all Americans have access to broadband, and the FCC should designate benchmarks and milestones to achieve that goal. We know the stimulus is coming together really fast, but in an ideal world, shouldn’t the national plan be developed before the $7.2 billion broadband stimulus funds get distributed?
In addition, the FCC will issue a supplemental Notice of Inquiry on their Annual Assessment of the Status of Competition in the Market for Delivery of Video Programming. The FCC has been reporting on the state of video competition since 1992, as directed by Congress. But the most recent video competition report was issued in January 2009, but contained 2006 data. Annual reporting on the video competitive landscape has been delayed while former FCC chairman Kevin Martin took on the cable special interest lobby and fellow commissioners on contentious issues like the 70/70 rule and the a la carte programming debate. As a result, the upcoming notice of inquiry will be for multiple years, including 2007 and 2008.