The National Broadband Plan

I went down to Washington, DC yesterday to participate in an event that celebrated the 25th anniversary of .com. I spoke on a panel (yes a hated panel) moderated by Kara Swisher and including Aneesh Chopra, CTO of the Federal Government, Arianna Huffington, and Ken Silva, CTO of Verisign.

Kara started out the discussion by holding up a binder that included the FCC's National Broadband Plan that was submitted to congress this week. She had a lot of fun with the fact that our nation's broadband plan was being distributed to congress and the media in paper form in a binder.

Notwithstanding the packaging of the plan, I am a big fan of the effort by our administration, led by the FCC, to change our country's lackluster performance in the area of broadband infrastructure. John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, is also a fan and he just wrote this in Business Week:

If the U.S. military ranked 17th in the world, you can bet that as a
nation we would make strengthening our armed forces a national priority.
Yet that's just how the U.S. stacks up against the rest of the world in
terms of access to high-speed Internet connections. The vital
communications systems that make our economy work and serve as a
platform for business innovation and social interactions are

I said to the panel, the audience, and our government's CTO yesterday that I believe the most important thing we can do in the area of broadband infrastructure is to increase the amount of wireless spectrum available for broadband internet. The fact is that wires, fiber, and cable aren't going to get us where we need to go. We can spend billions laying more and it will be a waste of money. We can't get to the speeds, capacity, and coverage we need with last century's technology. We need to lead the world in the development of new technology and we need to deploy it here first.

The national broadband plan does call for another 500mhz of hiqh quality spectrum to be used for "terrestrial broadband services" over the next decade. This blog post explains how that is proposed to happen. It appears that most of this 500mhz, if not all of it, will come from the broadcast television industry.

That seems to be politically realistic but there is a whole lot more excellent spectrum out there in the hands of industry, from broadcast TV, to broadcast radio, to wireless carriers that is locked up in the hands of one single provider. And that's huge problem.

As I explained yesterday on the panel, there's huge difference between the efficiencies of circuit switched networks where the bandwidth is allocated entirely to one connection, and packet switched networks where the bandwidth is shared amount many connections. The same is true of wireless spectrum and the unregulated band where wifi devices operate is the best example of this. We have witnessed massive innovation and bandwitdth improvement in wifi devices over the past decade. This is due to the development of new standards, new hardware technologies, and new software technologies. When you take a technology and unregulate it and let the market operate, you'll get way better results than when you lock a technology up in the hands of one owner.

So what I'd like to see in the National Broadband Plan is to make that entire 500mhz available as unregulated spectrum where anyone and everyone can build technologies, devices, markets, and businesses in it. I believe if we did that, instead of auctioning it off to several large established wireless carriers, we would see the kinds of gains our country needs to improve our broadband infrastructure. We'd also lead the world in the development of these new wireless technologies and create a boatload of jobs in the process.

#Politics#VC & Technology#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. Kevin

    Does your opinion seem to be gaining traction? Or does it seem that the current industry leaders will be able to acquire the spectrum?

    1. fredwilson

      it’s hard to tell. washington is such a political place i have yet to beable to figure out how to determine what’s really going on

      1. paramendra

        “…washington is such a political place…”The funniest phrase I ever read at this blog.LMAO

  2. Harry DeMott

    What are you, crazy? A communist? Handing out 500 MHz of spectrum to the masses instead of seeing whether AT&T or Verizon will pay more for it? This is a scarce national resource and should only be rationed by the highest bidder! Obviously I am being highly sarcastic here. I view this plan kind of like Obamacare – another attempt by the government to control more and dictate more of our lives. I all for improving broadband speeds and functionality – but let’s crowd source it – not let the highest bidder decide what to do with it.

    1. fredwilson

      Sarcasm is welcome and respected here at avc

    2. enrolled agent study guide

      I agree. Kind of reminds me of the mandated television “upgrade” last year. Grrrrr….

    3. Prokofy

      So “crowdsource” is the new euphemism for “Let Google take it over”?

  3. andyswan

    Fred walks in and tells the looters on the panel NOT to create rules that will put themselves in position to broker power and influence to the moochers he is sitting on a panel with.That’s win.

    1. Mark Essel


    2. ShanaC

      Very Randian of you.

      1. Dave Pinsen

        Swantastic might just be the warm-up. Andy’s Gulch might be next.

  4. kidmercury

    i’m very interested in the money aspect of this. meaning: does this in any way, shape, or form involve more government spending?i’ve also read a number of explanations about this thing. i’ve yet to find one that is clear and easy to understand — one that is written for stupid people. i find this a bit frustrating, and raises my already high suspicions. if anyone knows of an explanation of this for stupid people, i’d be grateful if you can share it with us.

    1. Mark Essel

      Simple version: there’s a Great capacity of unused spectrum at any given moment because channels are restricted and not constantly saturating their bandwidth. A packet based approach has proven to be more efficient at taking advantage of the openings.

      1. kidmercury

        thanks — honestly the simplest version i’ve heard yet. :)is this a request for more money from congress to spend on something to fix something? so far, it sounds like this is a request for government spending, and the rationale on why this spending is worth it is what you noted (more efficient spectrum usage). is my understanding correct here?

        1. Mark Essel

          No prob buddy. It’s an attempt to open up bandwidth instead of selling it to Big TelCoMy soapboxHttp://

        2. paramendra

          No, this is not about getting the government to spend more, this is about asking the government to get out of the way. When they sell big chunks of the spectrum to a handful of TV types, they are standing in the way big time.

          1. fredwilson


    2. Morgan Warstler

      Well there’s a lot of spectrum the government owns and doesn’t use. We’re not talking about that, we’re talking about the government paying TV Broadcasters (and others) to relinquish the spectrum they own.Their plan is to action it and pay the current owners, Fred wants taxpayers to pay for it and give it to us…. well the Tech industry minus telecom / cable.

      1. kidmercury

        ahh i see! so ANOTHER bailout for fred’s businesses that US taxpayers/treasury bond buyers pay for!!! yes, certainly in the best interests of our future! lolthat is sarcasm, folks. since i know how popular sarcasm is here at AVC!thanks for the explanation morgan. based on my understanding thus far (which is admittedly very elementary…..i don’t know much about this spectrum stuff), i think the free market approach would be more like what you suggested about google buying it. i’m inclined to favor that, based on my understanding thus far.

        1. jarid

          Sarcasm is popular on the internet?

        2. paramendra

          “…..fred’s businesses….”I know of a lot of people here who think highly of Fred, myself included, but you must think extremely highly of him to suggest the entire internet is part of Fred’s portfolio. Talk about concentration of wealth.

          1. kidmercury

            see the conversation in this thread below involving myself, morgan warstler, and fred. i want to understand what the cost is and who is paying for it. i undersatnd the benefit is for “everyone,” or at least that is the sales pitch. i want to understand who is paying for this benefit. especially if it is me.

          2. paramendra

            Rest assured. You are not paying for my future mobile broadband. But would you mind if you had to in an indirect way?

          3. kidmercury

            Yes, I would mind.

          4. paramendra

            You are already paying for my use of the public library. How do you like them apples?

    3. andreaitis

      another way to think about it is to use a hosting analogy: dedicated servers vs shared/cloud hosting.

  5. Morgan Warstler

    Fred, I’m conflicted.If you want it so bad, tell Google to buy it and make it free. Argue the point to Qualcomm and Cisco. Man we do not need a National Broadband Plan, to try and make Boxee payout.The cost of 100Mbps to 92% of American Households (cable coverage) is going to be $50-75 a month in the next 3-5 years. We need to be honest about DOCSIS3.0 does – it’s pretty spectacular, it just comes with TV Everywhere.Let me ask you a question: have you considered instead throwing out the TCP/IP layer, and replacing it with UDP and LDPC (Low Density Parity Check) codes?I just saw a demo that’s out of frigging sight. Distant pages and files loading at line speed. The whole internet is based on 1.5KB packets and this means – if the page/file isn’t pushed to the edge (the long tail of content) no matter how fast your connection is, you sit and wait to request and acknowledge each one. But if the content is encoded with LDPC you just need to receive a bucket of the data until you can remake the file on your end, so the latency of req/ack disappears.Anyhoo, can’t we be talking about this? Or maybe solar powered High Altitude Vehicles (Blimps) using Ka band (satellite) to do 2-way broadband the lights up rural markets?Finally if this is really not about Boxee, and you really think we need more wi-fi, why are we even asking? Why not get giant donations from the tech players and threaten politicians to do this? Aren’t we bigger than the 10% of the population still using rabbit ears?

    1. fredwilson

      I can assure you that this is not at all about boxee. Its about our future

      1. Morgan Warstler

        Ok, well it if is about our future… why are we just asking? I mean, why not set up a PAC, it’d be hella wired for grass-roots, likely the most wired PAC in the history of politics. Every web based platform, every social media site – all the users, all web guys.Why not organize us, raise money from us, and really go beat the jesus out of Congress / President.We’re so money and we don’t even know it.

        1. fredwilson

          i don’t want to engage in traditional lobbying or buying politicians. i need to be able to look at myself in the mirror in the morning. i’d rather have the conversation publicly and hopefully inspire others to do the same.

          1. raycote

            Oh that guy, Mr. Politically Hopeful, isn’t he the guy who’s family is in the back room be tortured. Quiet… quiet… can you hear that?

          2. fredwilson


          3. raycote

            I guess my sense of humor is a little off the bell curve!I admire your principled approach. I am with you completely. In a world where the player to neo-cheating-defector ratio is tilting decidedly in favor of the defectors, that was my failing attempt at nihilistic sarcasm.I’m not a postmodernist. I still believe in overreaching principals. I grow up in an era when they still taught students to stand up for the principal and sit down on their own stool. -Monty PythonH.G Wells once said something to the effect:what do you do if you arrive at a nihilistic world view, well.. you carry on as if it that were not true!I would never criticize your realistic idealism as I fall into the more extreme category of DREAMY EYED IDEALIST!I OFFER AS PROOF THIS WORLD VIEW:the universe is *God’s journey of self-discovery, a morphogenic field radiating out from the mind of God, working the layers of yin & yang, good & evil, PLAYERS & DEFECTORS, a novelty engine probing the frontiers of creativity, standing waves of self replicating probability filtering out the self destructive dysfunctional defectors in favor of organic social structures worth of such a journey*God – Definitions may vary widelyto all our Godsfrom all our peoplesplease bestow blessingsof optimal inertia dampeningupon our emerging noosphere

          4. fredwilson

            Got it. That was very helpful. Thanks

      2. kidmercury

        tell you what boss. since this is yet another request for a government hand out to support your businesses (not surprising as that’s the way the game works in a fascist economy), why don’t you make the argument to cut government spending in other areas, so there is more room for handouts for your businesses. especially if you think this is important enough to go down to washington for. there is this little thing called the war budget, you can start there. if you need help coming up with an argument for how to cut that and allocate it to handouts for your businesses, you can visit those who argue google would become too powerful if there was an auction and google bought it: indeed, i understand that problem. the real problem, however, is excessive wealth consolidation in ALL industries. this is largely a result of monetary policy which works to concentrate wealth. but alas, reform of monetary policy is not “exciting.” ironically THAT is what really is best for our future.and also, if you really want your statement that this is not about boxee but rather about our future to have credibility, then please address the carbon tax issue, which you are on record as saying that you support but don’t want to talk about. lol. is that really about our future as well?now if you’ll excuse me, i have some songs to write.

        1. Morgan Warstler

          well, wifi has done wonders for the Internet, but since it has natural limitations, it doesn’t compete with mobile. It doesn’t even compete with broadband (it makes sitting around your house / coffee shop more fun) – but it does serve as a decent last mile solution for the 8% of the rural households who can’t get cable.The unfortunate thing is that this NBP is being sold as a rural play – and frankly, I don’t think we should be subsidizing rural people any more at all. We should end AG subsidies too.I don’t know how Fred sees this new spectrum operating. If it actually competed with mobile I think it would become clogged very very quickly.Fred, what kind of usage do you want/expect from this spectrum?

          1. fredwilson

            why exactly would it get “clogged very quickly” when wifi has not?

          2. Morgan Warstler

            Well I assume we’re talking white space style spectrum. If i’m wrong here, I apologize.Whites space as I understand it requires devices to be location aware and aware of one another, unless you are using it just for point to point backhaul. As you drive around, you are constantly hopping from not only from tower to tower, but switching from channel to channel. So it’s really good for:1. close in connections where you move around your house, etc.2. long distance connections where you aren’t mobile.Check this out: http://www.showmywhitespace…Look through their applications. It isn’t really mobile stuff.Again, cable can soon provide 100Mbps broadband to 92% of US households.

          3. fredwilson

            my goal is not limited to the 500mhz the plan is talking abouti think we are going to need to take more back than that

          4. paramendra

            Absolutely. Much more. Take it all for broadband. And if there is any left, give it to the TV people, not the other way round. Wireless is the way to go. Makes so much more room for innovation.

          5. fredwilson

            Let it compete with wifi. I don’t buy the clogged argument one bit

          6. Morgan Warstler

            But we don’t use wifi to compete with cellular. It’d be more like when you buy your tmobile phone or tablet, it comes with wifi and white space so you can use it around your house.I’m trying to see how that competes with t-mobile.

        2. raycote

          @kidmercury – I quote you!”excessive wealth consolidation in ALL industries. this is largely a result of monetary policy which works to concentrate wealth”—————————Let me start up my negative ideological persona labeling machine, just you, comrade;-)). On second thought, lets not bother with that.I muchly agree with your focus on illegitimate monetary policy.I’d just like to frame it as a recurring instance of howALL ADAPTIVE LIVING SYSTEMS ABHOR EXTREME CONCENTRATIONSas these concentrations block dynamic equilibrium, that is, they ultimately undermine long term homeostasis. This monetary cardiovascular blockage, this concentration of corrupt credit and capital assignment is killing the goose who laid the golden egg. It is choking the LIVING SYSTEM DYNAMICS, the homeostasis, right out of the American economy, an economy once fuel by a dynamic web, a complex living system of interdependent, mutually beneficial, industrialists and entrepreneurs. The American economy has had the LIVING stuffing kicked out of it by meme spirited speculators who have captured the credit flag for their ever more exclusive control and misuse.POLITICAL ECONOMY IS A LIVING SYSTEM and should be framed as such.NOTE:the preceding message has been brought to you by THE MINISTRY OF LIVING SYSTEMS PROPAGANDAthis message approved byJames Grier Miller (1916 – 2002)Living Systems Theory – ISBN-13: 978-0070420151

          1. kidmercury

            lol, your comment is fun! i enjoyed it, and agree with it. 🙂 although i don’t think i’m a negative person — negative people don’t try to make positive change, they just remain ignorant and resign themselves to defeat instead.i hope we will be blessed with more messages from the ministry of living systems propaganda! 🙂

          2. fredwilson

            You can be very negative kid

          3. kidmercury

            lol, well i find discussing problems so we can find solutions to be the most positive thing a person can do. but, i suppose positive and negative are subjective terms.

        3. fredwilson

          Asking the gov’t to deregulate spectrum is not a handout to me or anyone else. Its giving what rightly belongs to the people back to the peopleSheese

          1. kidmercury

            it is an increase in government spending, yes? so, it is, in part, my money. why am i paying for this? and how much am i paying?if it is not an increase in government spending, let me know. based on all the conversations thus far, i am under the impression that it is. i also think my skepticism is justified, for reasons i’ve been elaborating on for five years. if you think skepticism of government plans is not warranted in light of government’s behavior over the past ten years (actually a lot longer but the past decade is a slam dunk in terms of incompetence in my opinion), let me know.and as an investor, perhaps you can understand my preoccupation with the cost aspect of this? lol, i mean when you make investments, do you just sign a blank check and throw a party or do you carefully consider the expenses of the business, knowing that that is a key matter in getting a positive return on your investments? how is my focus on government’s expenditures any different? the only difference, of course, is that your investments are made willfully, while government’s expenses are made by use of force against me.

          2. fredwilson

            What I proposed in my post, to deliver the 500mhz to the market as unregulated spectrum, requires not a dime of gov’t spending

          3. kidmercury

            Ok, if that is the case, I apologize. That is not the impression I got based on other responses I received in this thread and it was the very first question I asked.

          4. Morgan Warstler

            Fred, this isn’t true. They are buying that spectrum back from the TV Broadcasters that own it.

          5. fredwilson

            Are you sure about that? I thought they were taking it back

          6. Morgan Warstler

            The article you linked to: “3. Get government approval so broadcasters who have voluntarily consolidated their channels will be able to share the profits of the remaining spectrum that is auctioned off.”They can’t just take it back, the broadcasters own it. They are having the auction, so it doesn’t cost the taxpayers anything. If they don’t auction it, they still have to pay the broadcasters.

          7. fredwilson

            What about eminent domain?

          8. Morgan Warstler

            Out come the guns. I think we have to accept the historical consequences of previous government actions, or the entire canard of freedom starts to get a bit drafty in the rear, and we gain quite a bit harm on the civil disobedience front.Let me suggest another angle: these TV guys own this kinda killer broadcast spectrum thats not being used efficiently – and their only viewers are baiscally the poor (rabbit ears).There’s one company who’s been pretty diligently trying to work in within the rules to bring the younger crowd to rabbit ears.'d imagine there’s a nice VC play adding a directional White space radio antenna to something like Sezme.Something like this could partner with the Broadcast TV guys – I mean hell they have media time just laying around, and they are dying right now, they could go whole hog advertising like crazy for a $50 a month TV/Web/Phone package.Then they get to make use of the spectrum they own. Contracts are kept. And cable / telco gets a competitor in Internet access.

          9. Prokofy

            Like I’ve always said, Fred, you are a Bolshevik revolutionary through and through. You want to seize the telegraph station. You want to tell the government to seize property that private companies paid for, “expropriate from the expropriators” and bless it with the “eminent domain” concept.

          10. fredwilson

            I want to bust up monoloplies. That’s for sure

          11. raycote

            I hear you commirade 🙂 – (sarcasm)

          12. raycote

            @ProkofyYou’re keeping it linear and simple, I will grant you that. Every entity form individuals on up through international corporations are granted the inalienable right to hold assets. But you draw line at large collections of democratic citizens collectively holding assets. When is the fire sale on national parks, water and air?Get real! Political economy is far more organically complex that your model allows. Government bad corporations good? How about we stop with black and white ideological tantrums and refocus our efforts on something more productive, like improve the mechanisms of governance in both institutions.maybe your comment was meant to be sarcasm if so sorry about that!

          13. Prokofy

            Er, I’m not the one with the linear concepts here, dear. I’m not the one advocating government *eminent domain* to take over private property so that…what is it? Google? Or…Boxee? or somebody can get these frequencies?Why would I be advocating a fire sale on parks, when it’s the notion you and Fred have of a “good government” (when it does the bidding of the sector you have interest in? that makes it good?), not mine.Indeed political economy *is* complex, and Fred’s picture of the “private/public partnership” of the subway is not an accurate description. How about we stop with these leftist utopian notions of yours, and realize that is doable and in the public interest *really*?I don’t see corporations as inherently evil. But evidently you do, or at least, any corporation not located in Silicon Valley, and you are trying to offset this with a notion of “good government” that has no checks and balances.

          14. raycote

            Again with the meaningless linear right left anachronisms!I am all for corporate institutions! I believe corporate structures offer the best possible mode for implementing commerce. Never the less corporation are institutions and they exist and serve their intended social function at the pleasure of the democratic citizenry.We democratically elect to indorse corporate institutions as our chosen method of implementing the production of good and services because we believe distributed corporate competition will deliver to us citizens a decent standard of living without over centralizing power in the hands of government bureaucrats or private oligarchs. There is no irrevocable, sacrosanct, a-priori, guaranty that this democratic endorsement can never be revoked.Like all other stakeholders in society, corporate rights and authorities come with some requisite responsibilities. Corporations must commit, like all other social stakeholders in a free society to work within some framework, some social contract, some rule of law, that insures they contribute to the overall wealth and health of the nation. If our corporate institutions cannot manage that commitment, it would be time for us democratic citizens to reevaluate our commitment to these institutions, as our democratically chosen method for optimizing the global profits accruing to the ultimate shareholders in this great enterprise we call democracy. And what exactly is that global profit accruing to the ultimate shareholders in this greatest of all free enterprises called democracy, why, it is the national standard of living, you know that metric that gauges our collective success at the old, pursuit of happiness thingy.Its about time we the citizens started running this GRANDEST OF ALL FREE ENTERPRISES, CALLED DEMOCRACY, more like a corporate business, by focusing on maximizing profits for the owners/shareholders of this grand free enterprise called democracy.Those owners/shareholders would be us, the citizens, and the return on investment/profit we should expect from our grand democratic enterprise is a decent standard of living. When a business or corporation employs individuals to impediment their profit seeking efforts, the employee must constrain his behavior so as to contribute to the enterprise’s overall profit outcomes. If the employee fails to comply with these expectations she/he will soon be reprimanded and if the behavior persists ultimately dismissed. Similarly when the citizens/shareholders in this, ultimate free enterprise, called democracy, choose to employ corporate institutions to facilitate their profit seeking, standard of living, those corporate institutional employees must constrain their behavior so as to contribute to the enterprise’s overall profit outcomes. That profit outcome, in this greatest of all free enterprises, a democracy run by the people/citizens/shareholders, for the people/citizens/shareholders, is their collective standard of living. If corporate institutions employed by the citizen/shareholders fail to comply with these expectations those delinquent institutional employees should like wise be reprimanded(appropriately regulated) and if the behavior persists ultimately dismissed(bankrupted as in the Federal Reserve).Now that said, I believe their is no better alternative to corporate institutions, in theory they save us from much less desirable alternative, centralized government ownership with all it’s attending nepotism, corruption and inefficient waste. (caveat, there are IMHO a few natural monopolies that may be best mediated via collective government control, education systems, healthcare systems, armies, police, water systems and sewer systems)We now seem to have reached the other extreme, out of control, unresponsive corporate institutions, abdicating their responsibilities and commitment to contribute to their employers bottom line. That employer is us the people/citizens/shareholders who have democratically chosen to employ these corporate institutions to facilitate our bottom line profit seeking, our standard of living. Some corporations, like some out of control employees, now feel a sense of entitlement to pursue their own shot term agendas with no regard for the larger interest of their employer.It must be said that the blame here does not rest with the corporations! These corporations are simply institutional employees and we the people/citizens/shareholders, as owners and operators of this free enterprise democracy are their employer. Like employees everywhere, they cannot be blamed for chaos in their ranks. That responsibility rests firmly with their employer, the people/citizens/shareholders and their elected political managers.Corporate structures mandate management maximize all opportunities within the envelope of the law on behave of its shareholders. If we are to run our democratic enterprise in a business like way, it is incumbent upon the citizens/shareholders of this democratic enterprise and the political managers we elect to muster the effort, wisdom and political-will to enact effective constraints on our corporate employees. Constraints that effectively balance the citizens/shareholder’s bottom line profitability, a decent standard of living, against our corporate employee’s need to retain enough autonomy, flexibility and control to fuel the creative power of corporate self-interest without biting the hand of the very citizenry who have democratically chosen to place their faith in free enterprise corporate institutions.Corporate management needs a clear set of social constrain guidelines that apply across the board. Rules that cannot be bought and sold to the highest corporate bidder. A clear and effective set of corporate constrain rules cannot be formulated or enforced until the citizens take back their sovereign control over the legislative rule of law mechanisms. This means every last cent of corporate money must be drained out of the people’s democratic political process, any thing less is not a sustainable democracy and as such is doomed to flounder!The Chinese are creating an array of quasi corporate institutions under government control while in America an array of delinquent corporations are creating a quasi democratic government under corporate control.Chairman Mao was wrong, power does not come out of the barrel of a gun.Power come out of the backdoors of factories. No wealth no power!We citizens/shareholders in this grand free enterprise, called democracy, have allowed some of our under supervised delinquent corprate employees to strip mine our inventory of wealth producing factory power and sell it off via the off shore side door. These delinquent corporate employees have pocketed a quick one time wind fall profit at the long term expense of our overall democratic operations.These delinquent corprate employees have undermined our democratic enterprise’s ongoing ability to produce enough real wealth on the ground to cover operating costs, brining our very solvency into question.It seems our delinquent corporate oligarchs are indeed selling china’s communist oligarchs the balance of trade rope by which to hang us.Its is time for American citizens to assert their right to mange their Democratic Enterprise.

          15. kidmercury

            check this out. excerpt:Earlier this month we reported about Microsoft’s Security Chief, Scott Charney, making the suggestion that the government should tax broadband users in an effort to subsidize steps to ensure computers accessing the Internet are secure. It seems that Charney’s idea about a broadband tax to keep people safe is shared by the FCC. The FCC is also proposing a tax on broadband users, except the money won’t go toward ensuring computers are free of viruses and malware before accessing the Internet. Details of the plan are contained within the FCC’s National Broadband Plan.Here’s the section relating to the tax:Recognizing that Americans will obtain substantial benefits from the creation of this network, imposing a minimal public safety fee on all U.S. broadband users would be a fair, sustainable and reasonable funding mechanism. The fee should be sufficient to support the operation and evolution of the public safety broadband wireless network.Under the FCC’s proposal they would use a broadband tax to fund the creation and ongoing maintenance of a national public safety wireless broadband network which would cover 99% of the population. The network would be built on the 700 MHz spectrum which was allocated by the FCC to be used for public safety communication.The cost of the network is projected to be $12-16 billion over a ten year period. To be fair, the plan doesn’t mention a tax. The FCC refers to it as a public safety fee which, if approved by Congress, would be added to bills related to broadband access.

          16. kidmercury

            here is more. excerpt (emphasis mine):FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has already talked about this aspect of the plan and has said that public money is a necessity to achieve this goal.

          17. raycote

            Whats da matta fo you! That is only $4.50 per person per year don’t be so cheap.Given the government’s track record, at managing targeted tax revenues, shouldn’t you have a lot more faith in their efficacy and their open, public domain, outcomes metrics? Mr. Negative spikes again!Easy now, I’m just rubbing your fur the wrong way for the fun of it.Seriously though, there are times when public funds can fuel both the public and corporate good. The problem is the complete lack of credible, open, transparent, public metrics for tracking real cost/benefit outcome.

          18. BillSeitz

            Yes, the FCC Broadband plan, mostly focused on wired broadband, will cost public money.Fred is focusing on 1 currently-small element, the wireless bit, and saying it should be the *main* piece. If we pay broadcasters for it, it will cost money. Paying broadcasters for it, then auctioning it off to other over-concentrated players, seems bizarre to me.Given the permanent weirdness of spectrum “property”, there can be respectful disagreement over whether broadcasters “deserve” to be paid, any more than content creators get paid when an “asset” converts to public domain.

          19. kidmercury

            Hi bill, thanks for your comment and clarification. If it costs public money, then those who stand to gain financially from this should foot the bill, or do the work to get budget cuts in other areas so there is not a net increase in govt spending. I also find it extremely disappointing, to say the least, that a community of bright and diligent entrpreneurs and investors can be so negligent of the monetary aspect of this bill — especially in an environment where dissatisfaction with govt is pretty much at record levels, across all social classes.

          20. Morgan Warstler

            3. Get government approval so broadcasters who have voluntarily consolidated their channels will be able to share the profits of the remaining spectrum that is auctioned off.

          21. kidmercury

            okay, there seem to be conflicting thoughts on the money aspect of this. i hope we can discuss and find out what the cost is to the taxpayer (0, all the money in the world, or somewhere in between. the more precise we can get the better).

          22. Prokofy

            The “People” consist of a big Google grab? This is what sounds like “People’s Democracy” as in the GDR.

      3. Prokofy

        “What’s good for Boxee is what’s good for the country”.

        1. fredwilson

          That’s bull. Boxe will make or not make it depending on whether they can build and maintain a great product. They are in a hypercompetitive market and are going up against the likes of apple microsoft and google.

          1. thewalrus

            i support fred on this. lets not twist this up in vested interest BS. spending a day in washington is nowhere near the best use of time in making a small consumer internet startup successful. military maybe, consumer web, no way :)this is all about pulling back a bit on the government mandated oligopoly on an important public good. that said…..i’d like to see evidence that the dems are willing to lean on goog a bit too. this shouldn’t be about swinging the pendulum between biz interests, its about doing what is best for the citizens of the country.

    2. Mark Essel

      Kinda stoked about a potential “fix” for lost packet delays.

    3. David Semeria

      Morgan, you spoiled a brilliant comment by playing the vested interest card.People who have been here a while know that Fred frequently pushes his own considerations out of the way when the bigger picture is at stake.That said, pound-for-pound this is one of the most useful comments I’ve ever seen here.

  6. reece

    Competition FTW.

  7. Rob K

    I would like to see a national broadband plan and a national energy plan that have the same BHAGs as putting a man on the moon in the 60s. As an investment in national assets and new jobs, it would sure beat trying to recreate the WPA.

    1. JLM

      Damn, you seem to be looking for real leadership. Where have you been lately?Right now the energy policy of this Nation — which should be completely apolitical — is hopelessly mired in small minded partisan politics while our energy import expenditures are literally funding terrorism worldwide.

      1. fredwilson

        Yup. Its disgusting

    2. paramendra

      “….a national broadband plan and a national energy plan that have the same BHAGs as putting a man on the moon in the 60s….”Well said.

  8. Mark Essel

    More than any other reason this is why I spend a few minutes here every morning reading, and commenting.Ubiquitous Net access wherever it’s wanted, for the lowest cost possible. Fred you really get open information potential, and your post last year about open spectrum introduced me to the lack of wireless utility happening all over.Ok, I get a kick out of the commenters as well :)How about a P2P adhoc network created by all of us? I can pick up a wireless router/transmitter and pop it on my roof. It would be many relays or “touches” for global trips, but locally it would work. Just need an express lane for long distance.

    1. steve cheney

      oops meant to comment and hit like.i don’t think you want the reliability of your connection based on a mesh network on top of people’s roofs. creative but not going to cut it I’m afraid.

    2. paramendra

      Somebody has been doing this.

  9. Dave Broadwin

    Couldn’t agree more. Hard to argue that we don’t need the unregulated spectrum. Also, hard to believe that the gov will get it right. Having said that, as we often say in our firm, the perfect is the enemy of the good. Obamacare or not, at least we have a government that understands that we need a broadband plan — and actually has a plan.

    1. Keenan

      “Perfect is the enemy of the good.” Brilliant!

  10. jpmarcum

    What surprises me is that I’ve seen the need for this initiative being debated not just nationally but on other tech blogs as well. The John Chambers quote above is good but for me it boils down to education and the analogue is blindingly obvious: 1. Take two equally smart, ambitious kids doing research for a school presentation. 2. Give one a modem and the other 100Mbps broadband. 3. See which one scores higher. 4. Apply globally.

    1. Gregg Smith

      I agree the top 5% of the class will do that but the other 95% will watch keyboard cat (or even better create the next keyboard cat). /sarcasm…sort of

      1. jpmarcum

        Possibly but two concerns: 1. Given the size of our top 5% compared to, say, the combined top 5%s of the 16 countries leading us in broadband at the moment I’m willing to risk some wasted capacity in order to train our best minds. 2. Now take that bottom 95% (let’s hope it’s not that large); once they’ve matriculated with only the ability to watch keyboard cat (thanks AFT!) they’re likely going to find themselves presented with opportunities for piecemeal work in a global info economy (think mechanical turk, “virtual gold farmers” or for the best-qualified, content farms). They’ll be competing with the combined 95% of the top 16 for those jobs, all of whom have faster connections. How do you think that’s going to work out?

        1. JLM

          The top 5% of every country’s minds are being educated in America — NOW.Like many things, speed of broadband is one of those things that you only need enough of to clear the hurdle. Clearing the hurdle by 10′ does not really improve performance.I agree completely with your conclusion, I only quibble w/ your analogy.

          1. jpmarcum

            Quibbling with your quibble: I’d argue that more speed is actually quite valuable – I’m currently having a 1TB hard drive full of video that needs to be uploaded shipped from LA to NY because my 25/25 Fios home connection in NY clobbers the broadband speeds in both our office/homes of employees out in LA; it will cut our upload time to hours from days. While mine may be a slightly unique use case today, I’d rather live in the country that believes in the possibility of new, beneficial use cases that high-speed enables.I’d also argue that the reason why the world’s top 5% is coming to the US for (typically) higher education is due to the forward momentum remaining in our academic institutions following a half-century of unrivaled global dominance combined with a belief in the possibilities enabled by technology development. One half of that combination is already on the wane, I don’t think we should yield the other as well.

          2. JLM

            Your personal example seems much the exception rather than the base case. Don’t get me wrong, I am very, very, very much in favor or getting to warp speed but not for the reasons you indicate. I just feel you can’t go wrong w/ being the very best.In the final analysis, the top 5% of every country will be the ones fighting it out in the marketplace for business dominance. What the other 95% are doing is interesting but not decisive.The world’s top 5% are still beating a path to our institutions of higher learning because they are the best, are the most fully funded and therefore able to afford to continue to be the best and perhaps more importantly, they are all located in the most attractive business market in the world.That is why educating the world’s top 5% is such an important consideration — they may decide to stay forever. By educating the world’s top 5%, we may, in fact, add to the depth of the gene pool in our country both immediately and in the long run.Everything moves in fits and starts whether it was driven by the space program or weapons development or the Internet. The next big phase is going to be who gets their economy sorted out quickest and is therefore able to fund the future.

          3. fredwilson

            There is an insatiable appetite for bandwidth

          4. Prokofy

            It’s a scarce resource that requires payment then, not nationalization. It can be regulated so that monopolies don’t develop or unfair carrying charges aren’t levied, but it’s not water or electricity. It’s more like bricks or stone.

          5. Thomas

            Prokofy,Do you know why utilities exist?

          6. Prokofy

            Gosh, d’yah think? Duh.Except…the Internet is not a “utility” in every respect. Certain aspects of it are, but the ad agency Google isn’t a utility, just because it turns up the socialist communal non-profit Wikipedia on every return “for free”. It’s making money. Are you? I don’t see why the public has to sponsor the work tools of various big monopoly companies like Google. “Free search” which produces only Wikipedia in the first slot isn’t the bargain you imagine.

          7. Keenan

            Clearing the hurdle by 10′ today is only clearing the hurdle by 5′ tomorrow, and not clearing the hurdle next year. Therefore, enough should be measured not by today’s standards but by next years.

        2. Gregg Smith

          My point isn’t that 95% will screw around on the internet…well, yes it is but the “sort of” remark is that entertainment in the form of high quality video will drive bandwidth. We’ve increased speeds up to (yes the dreaded “up to”) 15Mbps in rural Arkansas so people can download movies. Peak bandwidth on our network has moved from mid-day to 6pm.On the non-entertainment side of the ledger, we’ve connected rural school systems with 1Gbps metro ethernet and we are providing fiber links to most of the vocational and community colleges in our footprint. We are also building out a fiber to the tower mobile backhaul network as fast as we can (still not fast enough for the carriers) and fiber to the premise to businesses in our largest community supplanting T-1s.

      2. paramendra

        This comment reminds me of Mike Arrington’s “scamville” posts.

        1. Gregg Smith

          I don’t follow…

          1. paramendra

            That was a shot at Arrington – who is known to visit these comments sections once in a while – not a shot at you. 🙂

  11. chipgaskins

    The FCC (and the private sector) say more high quality wireless spectrum is what is most needed (and I agree) for America to compete. And yet the Feds (NTIA and RUS) just gave away 99% of the first round of broadband stimulus money to wireline/fiber middle mile projects. Amazing that a vast majority of the applications were for wireless last mile projects that didn’t seem to have one problem finding the needed middle mile/back haul capacity to build their proposed networks. Yet 99% of the money was given to build YET MORE wireline projects…Amazing the lack of coordination on priorities.

    1. fredwilson

      i understand why that happened although i don’t like it one bit either. the stimulus bill’s objective was to create jobs as soon as possible. they funded projects that we “ready to go”. mobile broadband is not “ready to go” digging trenches for fiber is

  12. Gregg Smith

    You keep playing my song. I don’t have time to comment (at a regulatory panel about the FCC at CompTel) but I more or less agree with you. 2 points I can discuss later: 1) wireless IP will not provide the bandwidth and quality of service required for the next generation of HD over the top video which will continue to drive broadband penetration and 2) the spectrum purchased from broadcasters will need to be licensed and regulated to prevent the nightmare that is the current unlicensed spectrum world.

    1. fredwilson

      why is the unlicensed spectrum world “a nightmare”?

      1. Gregg Smith

        Some operators run unlicensed spectrum fixed broadband well, but it’s subject to interference and depending on the MHz available or used doesn’t propogate well. Interference is a bigger problem in urban areas. Also there is already a lot of unlicensed spectrum out there today.Note that the 500 MHz being proposed in the bb plan almost doubles the licensed spectrum available.I’m getting over my head here but can provide more real world experience later.

        1. paramendra

          “….the 500 MHz being proposed in the bb plan almost doubles the licensed spectrum available. ..”Double is not enough.

      2. chipgaskins

        becasue you can not attract capital (VC, PE, etc) to unlicensed business plans. too much risk that someone will interfere on a large CapEx spend.

        1. fredwilson

          i would only be interested in funding unlicensed business plans so thatmakes one VC who begs to differ

          1. Craig Plunkett

            You always told me you weren’t an infrastructure guy, Fred. Changing your tune?Anyway, I applaud the 500MHz of new spectrum, and yes it would be great if it were in the unlicensed bands. But, you are totally incorrect on not needing fiber, twisted pair and coax. As a matter of fact, the more wireless you have, the more wired network you need to support that mobility and throughput. Especially as cell sizes need to decrease in order to serve an explosion of data. The same principles of network scaling apply for wireless networks as do wired, they just substitute radios for those pesky ethernet cables.What is really needed is open access to mounting assets and rights of way, or structural separation. Right now, triple play pricing represents enough margin to recoup the capex necessary to buildout competitors, but the political and capital barriers to entry are too high. I have been running a successful unlicensed spectrum WISP for the past seven years in an affluent resort area, and I haven’t seen any investors come calling, so if that tune is changing, let me know.

          2. fredwilson

            i stand correctedwe do need to build out the tower and antenna infrastructure2010/3/17 Disqus <>

          3. steve cheney

            Agree that wireless alone is totally inadequate–it’s not an issue of getting rid of wires. The network will always be a combo of wired and wireless, it’s just that the backhaul is abstracted from the subscriber and you don’t think about it. Even your smartphone today relies on massive fiber backhaul, which is indeed the bottleneck in most congestion scenarios.I recently touched on how google would likely pursue a broadband rollout with a combo wired (EPON) / wireless (WiMax – or fixed licensed spectrum etc) approach – Why Google Broadband Finally Makes Sense: http://stevecheney.posterou

          4. paramendra

            First mention of Wimax here. Otherwise I was beginning to gasp for air.

          5. fredwilson

            Right on guys. I totally missed on that and you are so right to call it out

          6. paramendra

            “…You always told me you weren’t an infrastructure guy, Fred. Changing your tune?….”Keynes: “When my facts change, I change my opinion. What do you do, Sir?”I desperately want Fred to grow beyond “web services” into wireless broadband territory. That is where the big action is waiting to happen. Comparatively speaking “web services” are near saturated. Dot coms by now are like music bands, a few in every town, and a few big ones that rule.

  13. baba12

    Expecting to have an unregulated market and letting markets deliver is something that has proven itself to not truly be in the interests of the people. Maybe for a few people it is in the their interests so a CISCO or a USV feels they would like an unregulated market. After all when we all line up at the starting blocks we are not all equal thus would that be fair. I think not.I would like to see the Government deplo a Wireless Broadband network across the country with a set of open standards in place.Let the market then build tools and services that everyone wants and needs.It is analogous to the creation of the Interstate Highway System, Government built it and Businesses developed around it and we have had a healthy economic growth from it.To do that back then taxes were higher and nobody complained.Tax rate in 1955 — Anything of $400K was taxed at 90%, and ever since 1961 it has constantly dropped. Yet the services that were provided have been pretty much the same. Now we want to cut down spending and all the talk here seems to be about how it is another cost.People who paid those taxes back then were comfortable and did not think it was wrong as it benefited society.Letting private enterprise build highways that were unregulated would have resulted in a hodge podge of standards and services until they go through a whole series of consolidations and bankers /lawyers will make out like bandits as always.We have history that shows Unregulated environments lead to a few bad apples spoiling it for everyone else. I disagree with Fred on this cuz he is not talking with the best interests of the people but with the best interests of Businesses.

    1. JLM

      Your analogy to the interstate highway system is very thoughtful, compelling and easy to embrace. The IH system has made a huge difference in the commerce of this country and the mobility of its people. Huge!However, it is important to reflect that it took a considerable amount of leadership (Eisenhower), money and time to complete it and that it evolved significantly from an engineering perspective as the system was rolled out.Any engineered product evolves as the engineering improves based upon actual utilization.Another idea which can co-exist is the idea of toll roads (both public and private) if the tolls can actually be constrained to paying the original cost of construction and thereafter ONLY the cost of maintenance. They simply have to be built to some recognizable standard. No different really than military contracting which is based upon tightly drawn specifications.Government or, alternatively, widespread industry leadership can provide a framework which will create useful standards and ensure that money is not pissed away in wasteful competing technologies.Leadership is the key.

      1. fredwilson

        The subways in NYC were built by private companies.Entrepreneurs plus financial speculators is a powerful model.Eventually the city and state bought them out and consolidated it into one of the best mass transit systems in the world. I ride it every day and I love it

    2. Morgan Warstler

      Amazingly enough, even when the top tax rate was 90%, the governments tax revenues as a percent of GDP stayed between 18-20%, like they have for 70 years.Tax rates like that cause tons of dead weight loss, while everyone runs around hiding their income.We need it to be Ryan’s 25% (hard fast when EVERYTHING fun is income, no businesses expenses) + 9% BCT (VAT) instead of corporate taxes.We’ll still capture 20% GDP, but it’ll grow at 3-4%.

    3. paramendra

      I compare universal, faster broadband to the interstate highway system all the time. Great metaphor.I am not sure you and Fred mean the same thing when you say “unregulated.” I think he is trying to suggest a great play for the market forces. Whereas you are getting at unregulated as in unregulated hedge funds? You might be talking about two different things.

      1. fredwilson

        I think so

  14. Zach

    Wrong, the most important thing they can do is foster competition in broadband markets. Break up all those mono- and duopolies. The lack of competition has bred an inability to innovate and expand.

    1. baba12

      Using your analysis and stretching it further we should breakup the monopolies we have with public water works. We take for granted filtered water to be delivered to us by our public utilities. If we believe that broadband connectivity should be considered in the same realm then we can’t have private enterprises providing that service without expecting them to want to profit from it.Most people will be up in arms if we privatized our water works, knowing full well that if that happens prices will go up and it wont be fair to all.After all the airwaves are property of the people, if the private sector wants to use this airspace to profit from they have to do it on the peoples terms not on their terms. The FCC is there to protect the rights of the people and for the last 25 plus years they have not protected the rights of the people. When Mr.Wilson talks of wanting to have an unregulated environment he is talking from the interests of a few not from the interests of the people.Sadly we have too much Business in Government (lobbyist/plocy makers) than actually lot of Government in Business (regulation or lack thereof), but that’s what the Business folks will make us believe.Public Policy is meant to benefit the lowest common denominator.

      1. fredwilson

        whoa. You’ve got my message backwards.I want unregulated spectrum so that anyone can operate a network and everyone can benefit from the efficiencies that will resultI’m not arguing for exclusivity or anything that interests a small powerful group. I’m arguing for the exact opposite

        1. baba12

          If it is unregulated would say USV make investments in the little guy, after all the small start-ups will have to grow and become sizable or else it wont be competitive, thus we will be back to square one wherein this unregulated spectrum will come to be dominated by a few. So possibly the state looks at it and says it is best to regulate it cuz providing wireless broadband has a initial capex that not every small guy can put together by themselves.So I would like to know who the target audience is that would benefit by opening up this market really.Maybe you can clarify it and open my mind to it, as I see it being played out like it always has.

          1. fredwilson

            that’s the whole point, USV and many other VCs would back the innovators whowould be able to come in and build businesses

          2. baba12

            would it not be a better idea for USV’s of the world to invest in ventures that build on top of the basic infrastructure. We are on the same page but I see it that Wireless Broadband roll out should be done by the state and anything that resides on top can benefit from the private investments that come about.It is like the Highway system was designed/developed and maintained by the state.Everything that runs on top of that predominantly is private. Having entrepreneurs build out the infrastructure is not a good strategy long term as they will be forced to grow and that comes by mergers/acquisitions which take up a lot of energy and effort while not really benefiting the people except bankers/lawyers.Id support the roll out of a Publicly funded/managed Wireless Broadband service and let entrepreneurs add value to the network with their products/services.

          3. fredwilson

            This conversation is now happening in two places because I blogged about the nyc subway system today. I do think public private partnerships are a good thing

    2. fredwilson


  15. Dave Pinsen

    “Kara started out the discussion by holding up a binder that included the FCC’s National Broadband Plan that was submitted to congress this week. She had a lot of fun with the fact that our nation’s broadband plan was being distributed to congress and the media in paper form in a binder.”This, from the woman who started a tech industry-oriented WSJ column called “Boom Town” right before the dot-com bust. Does her column still appear in a dead-tree version as well?

    1. kidmercury

      scoreboard: dave pinsen 1, kara swisher 0

      1. Dave Pinsen

        Thanks, but to offer some perspective:Dave’s Twitter followers: 200Kara’s Twitter followers: 681,072Which supports the point I made on this blog a while back about how the gatekeepers in the new media are mostly the same well-connected folks from the old media days. Behind those who blog their way to best sellers, like Fred’s friend Gretchen Rubin, is often the same establishment that existed pre-new media.

        1. kidmercury

          scoreboard: dave pinsen 2, kara swisher 0

          1. Dave Pinsen

            You’re too kind.E-mail me when you have a chance. I have something to run by you.

        2. fredwilson

          Not true. There is some of that. But we would not have garyvee without the social media open web movement. Many others come to mind but I’m typing on a treadmill with sweat dropping on the keyboard.

          1. Prokofy

            Fred, when you guys can stop putting up etsy as your real-world goods sales site, and stop putting up garyvee as your Internet commodities miracle man, and stop putting up Cory Doctorow as your book sales wonder, and find about 10,000 more people like them — since these are the only examples you all keep siting inanely over and over again –then we might believe you. Garyvee makes money from wine off the Internet because Scoble and you flog him. A *second* or a 1002nd wine guy can’t do that.

        3. Prokofy

          Yes, too true, too true. Maybe there’s a couple new faces like Scoble compared to old broadcast media but in fact he merely leveraged his Microsoft position to get followers.This “many to many” concept is really “one-to-many” still and still really about old media wine in new wine skins.

          1. Dave Pinsen

            Preach it, sister.If I may ask you a completely unrelated question though, why does your avatar look like a young James Spader?

      2. fredwilson

        Not a fair matchup. Put them in a room together. She’s a feisty one

    2. fredwilson

      It was a good laugh regardless

      1. Dave Pinsen

        Someone could have held up a copy of the newspaper she works for and asked why it’s still printed on paper. For the same reason: paper still has practical uses. Mocking the binders is just going for cheap laughs.

        1. fredwilson

          Totally agree

        2. Prokofy

          The largest distribution hard-copy newspaper in America still makes more money than some of your funded projects that have no cash yet, so laugh all the way to the bank…when you can.

          1. Dave Pinsen

            I’m not the one laughing at hard copy newspapers. I happen to be a subscriber of two of them. And I made the point in the comment thread of a recent post on my blog (“Web 2.0 versus Auto 2.0”) that one of them is doing pretty well financially.

  16. ShanaC

    I think this is largely an issue of who and what we are subsidizing and what the purpose is behind the subsidy.We want to increase access, promote innovation anywhere, at the most equitable cost. The question for me is- equitable for whom? There are a variety of needs to be met, and at the end of the day, the bill for these needs should be paid. That includes for both the providers of content, providers of service, and providers of broadband.Right now, I’d like to see how some non-partisan numbers stack up

    1. fredwilson

      There are no non-partisan numbers. Ever

      1. ShanaC

        There are no numbers we think are absolutely true facts? You sure aboutthat there are lies, damn lies, and statistics?

        1. fredwilson

          It is going to be over 60 degrees today in NYC. That will be a fact

          1. ShanaC


      2. raycote

        Never were truer words spoken!Agreed, volition is pink(the biological self survival imperative) to the core, self interest is the penny in the currency of all human affairs, no way around it. Well maybe genetically engineering a little Borg into our souls. Probably a bad risk management strategy?This, volition is pink to the core concept, needs to become a widely accepted social-reality meme. Thus dispensing with wheel spinning discussions about moral fiber and personal accountability as the primary social defense against public and private corruption. Targeting democratic political design efforts at a systems of institutional governance capable of providing open, verifiable, transparent, public domain, outcomes accountability metrics. Yes I know, moral fiber and personal accountability are still very important and valuable social assets. They help grease the skids making life much more palatable but they cannot serve as the central nervous system in a new organic body politic.

  17. Nick Giglia

    As we continue to move vital pieces of our personal and professional lives online, we need a national broadband capacity that is able to keep up with it. Creating a system in which people, simply by virtue of where they live, don’t have equal access to the broadband that will be a key to future competitive maintenance, let alone competitive advantage, borders on criminal and creates yet another system of haves and have-nots. We need to take aggressive action, and opening up this new spectrum is a perfect place to start.It would be a shame if our entrepreneurs built tools in the web that, by virtue of the speed required, were inaccessible for millions of Americans. As more people go online every day, we need to once again make the USA a world leader in this space.Bravo, Fred, for what you’re doing.

  18. paramendra

    Of all the blog posts I ever read at this blog, and I have read my share, this post really stands out for me. This topic gets me like nothing else in computing.”….another 500mhz of hiqh quality spectrum to be used for “terrestrial broadband services” over the next decade….”This is miserly. This is not going to cut it. TV needs to take second place to broadband. This is not some tertiary concern. This is the number one – Numero Uno – thing America needs to do to become a post-industrial, information age economy. The government just needs to get out of the way. The government selling that spectrum space to a handful of old companies is the government getting in the way. The American people need to revolt like they revolted against the British.The nastiest part of that phrase is “over a decade. This has to happen in 2010, not in 2020. The jobs are needed now, “look around.”…

    1. fredwilson

      When dealing with washington, patience is required

      1. paramendra

        If I had the patience for the legislative process, I might have been in politics. But I do follow it like some people follow baseball.

    2. Gregg Smith

      I attended a panel discussion about mobile backhaul Tuesday. The Verizon network representative said LTE with 20 Mhz of spectrum needs 85Mbps of backhaul to be “optimal”. The panel was focused on getting fiber to towers.LTE is promising (test) speeds of 10Mbps (and will likely have 5Mbps real world with average # of users hitting the same tower–this is my speculation). Thoughts on 20Mhz of spectrum providing 5Mbps speeds in the next 4 years? Per the FCC (as noted by gigaom) we have 50Mhz dedicated to broadband today. 500Mhz is a 10x expansion of that. I’m a business guy and I’m sure a technical/network knowledgeable person can clean up my statements presented above.

  19. ammosov

    For God’s sake – Chamber will always be pro-broadband. It’s his job. The more US gov’t spends to broadband, the more he sells. Sure they won’t buy Huawei!

  20. kenberger

    One of my favorite sources to cite on this is “The Paradox of the Best Network” by David Isen, written around 2001: http://netparadox.comFreeing the spectrum is one thing– and fully agreed that it’s a major and important step. But the networks still need to be built on that spectrum in a reliable and enduring way.”The best network is the hardest one to make money running.”This work also concludes, like points in this post and about the nyc subway,that solving the paradox could involve public/private cooperation:”So, we are stuck between the Scylla of big government and the Charybdis of free market dynamics. We need to find wise ways to proceed. If we don’t, telephone company lobbyists will write the next chapters of the communications story.” (of course that was in ’01– the lobbying scene is even worse and broader today)

    1. raycote

      In the yin-yang of wealth and power the citizen is the monkey in the middle that is for sure!

  21. Prokofy

    Yes, I understand why the ad agency Google needs free or low-cost workspace and work tools.And yes, I understand why all the companies you invest in like Twitter and Foursquare also need free or low-cost workspace and work tools to sell their ads or search data minining which is really the only business model they’ve come up with.So I get why Google needs to pretend that it is “helping rural connectivity” with all this and “rural education” when it is really helping itself to reach rural ad markets. And I understand why all your Twitters need a free, subsidized public utility as cheap or cheaper than water to mount their businesses on — which, unlike water/electricity/phone customers don’t pay monthly fees for.But I don’t get why we have to underwrite this as taxpayers. The subway isn’t a public/private partnership; it’s a private project that eventually got made public in the public interest but for which the public still pays per ride and gets pretty good value.Meanwhile, the “utility” of Twitter and the “utility” of the Google ad agency are basically saying “Obama, give us free socialist broadband so we can run our businesses and let us take more out of the taxpayers’ pocket than we already take in the form of his attention economy”. Instead of going to a movie, buying a book, buying a newpaper, paying for cable TV, I’m getting everything *free* on the Internet.This technocommunist recipe is for ruin, Fred. “Net neutrality” is anything but neutral; it’s a huge cost to the taxpayer to subsidize, and unjust tax as it mainly helps Google’s business without a demonstrable public utility.Spectrum locked up in a single provider? You’re less troubled by Google locking up search and Twitter locking up real-time messaging.”anyone and everyone” isn’t what shows up to grab broadband. Google does. Even if this is more pluralistic, there’s still the open question — why nationalize and socialize the Internet? That’s what “Net Neutrality” essentially does.

    1. fredwilson

      I don’t want it subsidized or free. I just want it in the hands of a market of competitors not a monopolist who has no incentive to innovate

    2. raycote

      Google is not for ever they will be commodified.

  22. BillSeitz

    Always a good time to point to Bruce Kushnick’s TeleTruth site documenting the bazillions already given to the telcos to give us nationwide broadband.Read it, and wonder whether it’s time for a “corporate death penalty”.

  23. Alpha Omega Wireless

    As a outdoor wireless integrator ( it amazes me how far behind the the rest of the world we are falling when it comes to wireless broadband connectivity. We have been Leap Frogged. by even third world countries that are successfully deploying WiMax and other wireless backhaul solutions. I agree that we have spent billions on fiber and copper infrastructures that has been become over capacity before it has been fully deployed. The costs associated with fiber infrastructure is tremendous, let alone gaining right of way access. The up-keep is expensive and time consuming too. I believe in fiber but know that wireless backhaul can provide quicker, cheaper, and farther reaching connectivity for greater bandwidth. Needless to say we are moving to more and more mobile applications that are already chocking the system.

  24. JLM

    That law is ill advised. Private industry should not be constricting the services provided by government; and, government should not be constricting the services offered by private industry.

  25. raycote

    “we elect our governments”That seems to be true only on a technicality!

  26. paramendra

    “….Argued in favor of location-based services/advertising etc to make it profitable or cost-neutral. …”We need to talk.

  27. raycote

    This seems to be an analogue to The corporation as a person?At some point the collective interests must trump individual libertarianism. This is a necessary evil. Other wise there is no possibility of a social contract. Still I agree with your sentiment that control structures should be very sparingly used in both directions.Developing more mature social memes around this tipping point will be a long term affair, maybe not in our lifetime.

  28. Keenan

    You always have a way with words. I know there was a reason I liked you. Well said.

  29. paramendra

    I am interested in what you are interested in. Maybe we can cook something.