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August 13, 2009

CITI Assists with Broadband Review

Catherine New
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The Federal Communications Commission, the agency charged with the task of creating a national broadband plan under the Obama Administration, asked the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information (CITI) to serve as an outside expert and provide analytic review for the program’s deployment last week.

The push to expand broadband coverage in the U.S. has raised a host of questions over ownership, content, speed and other economic issues. Backers of net-neutrality have expressed concern that telecom companies receiving broadband grants will have too much power over how and what information is transmitted. Part of CITI’s task is to provide a capital assessment of companies with future plans to deploy broadband networks, as well as their historical track record doing so. The FCC will make its official recommendations in February 2010.

“Too often, the debates over Internet policy have been driven by narrow agendas, with facts used selectively as ammunition rather than enlightenment,” says Professor Eli Noam, the director of CITI. “By focusing on data analysis of investment plans and deployment figures of upgraded broadband infrastructure, especially in this century — CITI looks forward to helping the FCC to change the past culture and develop a National Broadband Plan grounded in facts.”

Globally, broadband infrastructure reached a new frontier this week. On Monday, a new underseas fiber-optic cable providing faster connections to eastern and southern Africa opened.

Photo credit: Craig Rodway