Aspen Institute's Blair Levin touts reverse auctions

The Aspen Institute has released a proposed plan for making broadband available to 99 percent of the U.S. population in the next decade.

Drafted by Blair Levin, the former head of the National Broadband Plan who joined the non-profit earlier this year, the report not surprisingly is based on the same recommended reforms to the Universal Service program, which proposes to transition away from a voice-focused fund to one focused on broadband. It would also set a minimum data speed target of 4 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream.

There are other similarities: Recommendations to phase out rate of return regulation, move away from the competitive eligible telecommunications carrier program and distribute broadband funding based on market-based methods such as a reverse auction.

Other similarities include recommendations to phase out rate of return regulation, to phase out the competitive eligible telecommunications carrier program, and to distribute broadband funding based on a market-based mechanism such as a reverse auction.  Both proposals also call for the creation of a broadband mobility fund aimed at bringing all states to a minimum level of 3G service.

The Aspen Institute's report differs from the National Broadband Plan in terms of funding. While the National Broadband Plan calls on Congress to raise money, the Aspen Institute report does not suggest this idea. The report also includes new ideas, such as a proposal to set aside $100 million from Universal Service program to be awarded to the provider in five areas that gains the greatest efficiencies in broadband adoption.

"This would take the form of a reverse auction in which a number of areas, far greater than five, are identified as eligible for the program," wrote Levin in the report. "The winners of the grants will be those who guarantee the greatest increase in users for the least amount of money. Through such a market-based program, the country will learn which tactics are the most cost-effective for increasing broadband adoption."

For more:
- see this Telecompetitor article

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