I have been reading with great interest on the study and plan of deployment for the National Broadband plan as directed by Congress. I believe that is a important and critical step in order for our country to move in so many areas in terms of technology and in quality of service to citizens, as well as provide economic enablers. Having resided in rural, suburban areas, I feel the unique focus and the challenges that citizens face in terms of providing service. As well as being a volunteer firefighter, I see the critical need for a robust radio system that could be used on top of this proposed system for first responders.
After a gut check analysis, I believe the cheapest and best role is to force a reshaping of the cellular carriers. Their pricing is exorbitant, their service is sub par and the restrictions is simply not valid. I believe in establishing a set of standards that could at some point push for the FCC's goals, and without as much cost as has been originally projected (12 to 25 billion). The fact is I believe the cell carriers focus too much on closing their network, instead of improving and giving consumers choice. Spending more time on going for exclusive devices instead of improving the network. Therefore I propose the following.
1. Mandate a National standard and priority to require the next generation of cellular connectivity to Wi-Max using 802.11n speeds and quality. I have heard great things about this new standard from Academic institutions such as Duke University which was rolling this technology out while still in research mode.
2. Enable the ability for cell carriers to work off a national standard of devices, using the Wi-Max standard.
3. In areas under served by cell access, obtain more towers, by allowing for use of state and local governments to use this system for connectivity to their systems, using SSL and VPN technology.
Establish the priority of making voice "just another app" and get more of the priority for using VOIP technology. Develop a system where each person is assigned a phone number (much like social security) and allow for that number to follow any service they use. (I am trying to use Voxox a interesting tool that puts Skype and GoogleVoice to shame, but can't use it effectively because the number assigned is in California, I am in Georgia. Of course the number can be private, and hidden for privacy and other reasons.
I believe that wire and fiber is required for offices and CO's, but I think we really need to move away from having to deal with the "Last Mile" debate running fiber and wire to each residence is costly, impractical and obsolete.
For the record, I am not in favor of a "TVA like" agency or for the Federal government to get into the broadband business. I believe instead in a "attitude adjustment" is necessary. This would enable current carriers an appropriate incentive to do the right thing, expand service and reduce cost. Of course if the standards are not acceptable to them (the carriers) then change is necessary. For example there are folks that have bought phones in Europe and send to the states with Wi-Fi capability because the cell carriers are very reluctant to provide that service. Though for economic reasons or overall view that data service is too costly unable or unwilling to buy phones with the extra cost. Including the prepaid phones, as you may have a spare phone, but cannot use it which has wi-fi due to prepaid carriers scare of their revenue stream.
I am fully in favor of a free market approach, but when there are different standards, burdensome regulations and overly expensive service, then the FCC should be able to reshuffle the deck without killing the companies outright.