FCC asks for more time on broadband plan

The FCC asked lawmakers for a one-month extension to deliver its national broadband to Congress, confirming that it will miss the congressionally mandated Feb. 17 deadline. The plan will propose policy changes intended to increase broadband availability--which will likely include a call for more wireless spectrum--and was one of the main policy focuses of the FCC last year.

The commission has held numerous workshops and has asked for several rounds of public comment on what should be included in the plan, but ultimately concluded that it needed more time to deliver it. One of the issues the FCC has been grappling with is whether to take spectrum from TV broadcasters and use it for wireless broadband, something the CTIA and wireless carriers have been clamoring for.

"In order to ensure that there is sufficient time to more fully brief commissioners and key members of Congress, to get additional input from stakeholders, and to fully digest the exhaustive record before the agency, the chairman has requested from congressional leaders a short extension," Colin Crowell, a senior counselor to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, told the Wall Street Journal.

It is unclear whether the five-member commission will vote on the plan before it is sent to Congress. In an interview during a taping of a C-SPAN show earlier this week, Robert McDowell, one of the commission's two Republicans, said the broadband plan, once presented, would not be "self-executing" or "legally binding," but would instead likely lead to individual policy changes within the FCC. He expressed disappointment that the plan had been delayed.

"Once we receive a draft plan, I hope the document will reflect the benefit of the additional time being taken to prepare it," McDowell said in a statement. "I am disappointed that the FCC's broadband team is unable to deliver a national broadband plan to Congress by the statutorily mandated deadline."

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)

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