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On the Feds' Wish List, a Choose-Your-Own-Broadband App

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, March 16 2010

The National Broadband Plan (pdf) being presented to Congress today is an important foundational document in the future development of the Internet in this country -- which is our way of warning you that we're going to be boring you with some of the details in the days ahead. But as promised yesterday, here are two more aspects of the plan that particularly touch on the ideas of open government, interactivity citizen participation:

  • The National Broadband Plan proposes that the Federal Communications Commission should create an online database containing information it collects on the broadband speeds and services available to Americans, searchable by Internet service provider (AT&T, Verizon, Joe's Wireless), street address, so on and so forth.
  • The plan also proposes that the federal government should structure the data it collects with the goal in mind that third-parties will use it to build decision-making apps to help citizens and businesses figure out which broadband service option best suits the way they actually use the Internet -- whether they're night-only light users, hard-core gamers, video watchers, or whatever the case may be.

The bigger problem is that, in many cases, people in the U.S. have one or two broadband providers to choose from. Three is considered an embarrassment of riches. But solving that is what the rest of the plan is for.

Bonus: Now that we have a PDF version of the plan, we can get a peek at what the online Spectrum Dashboard we talked about yesterday will look like. The FCC promises that this is the beta version:

Credit: The National Broadband Plan, FCC