Planning for universal broadband

A report with recommendations to drive universal broadband service was released by Blair Levin last week.

Levin was the former FCC insider – chief of staff for Chairman Reed Hundt in the 1990’s. The report, Universal Broadband: Targeting Investments to Deliver Broadband Services to All Americans [pdf, 1.96MB]was written with the perspective that “all Americans will need access to broadband networks and public policy should encourage broadband adoption.”


The report envisages repurposing the Universal Service Fund to flow towards filling service voids in a technology and company agnostic manner.

The report acknowledges that satellite is part of the universal broadband solution, although there is no information provided as to how it developed the estimate of only 0.2% of households being un-reachable by terrestrial services.

Ultimately, it will be too expensive to provide service to the last .2 percent of homes, so those homes should be served by satellite broadband.

But the paper goes further than supply-side.

Numerous surveys show that low-income Americans adopt broadband at less than half the rate of wealthier Americans. Cost is the biggest factor, but it is not the only factor. Digital literacy and relevance also loom large as factors affecting adoption.

There are a number of recommendations to increase demand among those who are economically disadvantaged. To what extent will Canada look at these kinds of programs?

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