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In the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), Congress required the FCC to prepare a national broadband plan, to be delivered not later than February 17, 2010. The primary objective of the plan was "to ensure that all people of the United States have access to broadband capability. . . ." The plan was to include "an analysis of the most effective and efficient mechanisms for ensuring broadband access . . ." and "a plan for use of broadband infrastructure and services in advancing consumer welfare. . . ."[1]

Federal Communications Commission[]

On April 8, 2009, the FCC issued a Notice of Inquiry to collect information and ideas for how to respond to Congress’s mandate for a national plan for broadband.[2] In this notice, the FCC includes licensed and unlicensed radio frequencies as delivery channels for broadband. It seeks comment on the effectiveness of current spectrum policies and asks whether access to spectrum may pose a constraint on broadband access and development.[3] However, in the same notice, regarding policies to increase the availability of spectrum for wireless broadband, the FCC states that it “has made significant wireless spectrum suitable for broadband service available through auction and through other mechanisms.”[4] The notice does not commit to delivering a coordinated spectrum policy as part of the national plan for broadband.

On March 16, 2010, the FCC publically released its report, Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan. NBP recommends that the country set six goals for 2020:

The National Broadband Plan is categorized into three parts:

Meeting Broadband Policy Goals[]

Ideally, spectrum policy should be synchronized with broadband policy. The effort to move to energy efficiency is an example of how spectrum policy can affect other policy goals. The installation of smart meters in homes and other buildings is a key component of Smart Grid planning. Establishing the connection between a home’s smart meter and a utility could be done over wires, or with a wireless link over unlicensed or licensed frequencies. Coordinating Smart Grid goals with the goal of providing high-quality broadband to all could be achieved through the smart meter link by investing in fiber to the home (FTTH) or assuring that a wireless connection to a smart meter has sufficient bandwidth to provide robust broadband service. Furthermore, an efficient Smart Grid requires spectrum capacity to support the broadband communications infrastructure required to operate the grid. A Smart Grid policy that presumes the availability of suitable spectrum for wireless connections could fall short of its intended goal unless spectrum policy is aligned.[8]


  1. Pub. L. No. 111-5, Div. B, Tit. VI, §6001(k).
  2. FCC, A National Broadband Plan for Our Future, Notice of Inquiry, Docket No. 09-51 (Apr. 8, 2009).
  3. Id. For example, in ¶¶19 and 20.
  4. Id. ¶44.
  5. National Broadband Plan, at 11.
  6. Id.
  7. Id.
  8. UTC — The Utilities Telecom Council has published a report that argues for the allocation of 30 MHz of spectrum at 1800-1830 MHz to meet wireless communication needs. Utilities Telecom Council, "The Utility Spectrum Crisis: A Critical Need to Enable Smart Grids" (Jan. 2009) (full-text). Canada is in the process of a rule-making procedure that would make the 1800-1830 MHz band available for “electrical infrastructure.” See Gazette Notice SMSE-008-08, June 7, 2008 (full-text).