FCC sets 10-year broadband plan

Proposes that Internet will be the dominant medium in U.S.

The FCC's plan to make the Internet the dominant medium in America by connecting the nation with high-speed, affordable broadband Internet access is ready to be delivered to Congress and the public Tuesday.

The plan, titled "Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan," is a self-described "ambitious agenda for connecting all corners of the nation while transforming the economy and society with the communications network of the future: robust, affordable Internet," the FCC said.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act mandated the plan in February 2009.

In the 10-year plan, the commission makes recommendations for advancing broadband Internet. About half of the recommendations are for the FCC, and the remainder are for Congress and state and local governments.

Underlying the plan's recommendations is the assumption that though broadband access and use have increased during the past decade, the U.S. -- lagging other countries -- needs do to more. The FCC estimates that nearly 100 million households lack broadband at home and 14 million do not have access to broadband even if they wanted it.

"The National Broadband Plan is a 21st century roadmap to spur economic growth and investment, create jobs, educate our children, protect our citizens and engage in our democracy," FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said. "It's an action plan; action is necessary to meet the challenges of global competitiveness and harness the power of broadband to help address so many vital national issues."

The plan calls for the government to influence the expansion of broadband in a number of ways, including through enacting and reforming laws, allocation and management of spectrum and education and incentives.

Many of the parts of the plan no doubt will be controversial. Broadcasters already are pushing back on the FCC's suggestion that the U.S. should reclaim some of the broadcast spectrum via a voluntary auction.