This week we submitted brief comments to the Federal Communications Commission for its annual Broadband Progress Report. The Commission released a Notice of Inquiry (NOI), which it is required to do through Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, to report whether “advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.” The NOI asks questions about criteria and benchmarks by which to measure connectivity in the classroom and refers back to the recent E-rate modernization proceeding. Because E-rate is the Schools and Libraries Program, our comments ask the Commission to address the oversight in not including questions regarding connectivity in libraries.
We asked the Commission to include reference to the benchmark they adopted for libraries which is a goal of 100 Mbps for those libraries serving communities of 50,000 or less and a 1 gigabit goal for those serving communities with a population of over 50,000. In addition to these broad goals we reminded the Commission that using a more granular benchmark based on the number of internet connected devices a library has can be very useful. This number would also account for patrons who bring their own devices and use those with the library’s Wi-Fi. While libraries likely need to move toward the 100 Mbps and 1 gigabit goals, a meaningful measure based on connected devices will be useful in helping a library understand and plan for the “right” amount broadband to meet the needs of their community.
We look forward to the 17th Broadband Progress report sometime early next year and while you’re waiting you can take a look at the 2016 report here.