March 13, 2010 / 7:16 AM / 9 years ago

FCC to propose 10-year Internet expansion: report

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Federal Communications Commission will submit a 10-year plan to Congress on Tuesday that would establish high-speed Internet as the country’s dominant means of communication, The New York Times reported in Saturday editions.

The plan will likely spawn a lobbying battle between telecommunication firms and the broadcast television industry which already opposes turning over spectrum space to future mobile service use, the newspaper said.

FCC officials briefed on the plan said the commission’s recommendations would include a subsidy for Internet providers to wire unserved rural areas, an auction of some broadcast spectrum to free up access for wireless devices, and development of a universal set-top box that connects to the Internet and cable service, the newspaper said.

The FCC intends to argue that the plan, some of which would require congressional action and would influence billions in federal spending, should pay for itself through the spectrum auctions, the newspaper said.

The plan looks toward a Web-connected world with nearly instant access to areas ranging from healthcare information to online classrooms, through as-yet undeveloped wireless devices, the Times said.

About one-third of Americans have no access to high-speed Internet service, choose to do without it or cannot afford it, it said.

The plan stems from the government view that broadband is becoming the dominant U.S. medium over telephone and broadcast television, the newspaper said.

“Broadband will be the indispensable platform to assure American competitiveness, ongoing job creation and innovation, and will affect nearly every aspect of Americans’ lives at home, at work, and in their communities,” the Times quoted FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski as saying on Friday.

Officials briefed on the plan said it would also call for a “digital literacy corps” to help teach online skills, as well as recommendations for spending $12 billion to $16 billion for a national public safety network tying together police, fire and other emergency personnel and networks.

Reporting by Chris Michaud, editing by Vicki Allen

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