US FCC plans broadband deployment workshops

The public is invited to suggest questions and attend the August and September meetings

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission will host a series of workshops focusing on the creation of a national broadband plan, with input from key stakeholders and the public in general.

The FCC on Thursday announced the topics for the 18 workshops, to be hosted at the FCC's headquarters in Washington, D.C., between Aug. 6 and Sept. 3. The FCC continues to ask the public to suggest topics and submit questions that can be asked at the workshops.

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The workshops will be open to the public and will be webcast online, the FCC said. Key stakeholders attending the workshops will include broadband service providers, equipment providers, applications providers, and community groups, the FCC said.

Among the topics the FCC will explore in the workshops: e-government, opportunities for disadvantaged businesses, deployment challenges, broadband for health care, and communities that have low broadband adoption rates.

"Broadband is our generation's major infrastructure challenge," FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement. "It's critical that all stakeholders provide the commission with the information it needs to develop a National Broadband Plan that will spur innovation, promote competition, create jobs, and bring the powerful benefits of broadband to all Americans."

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a huge economic stimulus package signed into law on Feb. 17, directed the FCC to submit a National Broadband Plan to Congress by Feb. 16, 2010. The plan "shall seek to ensure that all people of the United States have access to broadband capability and shall establish benchmarks for meeting that goal," the legislation said.