[JURIST] The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) [official website] announced [press release, PDF] Thursday that it will move forward with the first phase of its National Broadband Plan [official website, materials] in 2010. The 2010 Broadband Action Agenda [materials] lays out the steps the agency plans to take in order to make broadband internet access more available in the country. The announcement follows a federal court ruling [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] Tuesday that the FCC lacks authority to enforce net neutrality [Google backgrounder; JURIST news archive], a policy considered vital to the plan by many. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski [official profile] said the plan could proceed despite the ruling:
The Commission's Bureaus and Offices have already begun executing on the strategy the National Broadband Plan lays out . . . The court decision earlier this week does not change our broadband policy goals, or the ultimate authority of the FCC to achieve those goals. The court did not question the FCC's goals; it merely invalidated one technical, legal mechanism for broadband policy chosen by prior Commissions.
The 2010 agenda also outlines steps toward numerous goals unrelated to net neutrality, including reclamation of 500 megahertz of open-air spectrum for mobile broadband applications, the creation of a public safety wireless broadband network and improved access to broadband service in rural and other underserved areas.
The FCC sent the plan [JURIST report] to Congress for approval last month, seeking approval to enact regulations to update the communications infrastructure in the US and make broadband service available to millions more Americans. The policy of net neutrality is unanimously supported by the FCC's commissioners [JURIST report] and is considered essential to the its goal of an open flow of information over the internet regardless of the amount of revenue generated by the information. The policy has been vigorously opposed by telecommunications companies Verizon, AT&T and Comcast [corporate websites], which argue that such rules would inhibit their ability to effectively manage Internet traffic. Other notable goals of the plan include providing 100 million households with affordable 100 megabits-per-second internet service and ensuring that all children are literate in digital technology by the time they leave high school.