By Tony Romm - 03/16/10 03:17 PM EDT
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday stressed the Federal Communications Commission's new report on broadband expansion could help spur "millions of new jobs."
While the speaker did not signal specific support for any of the National Broadband Plan's many proposals, she nonetheless praised its overall aim to broaden access to high-speed Internet as necessary for economic growth.
"That is why the Recovery Act made a strategic investment of $7.2 billion in our nation’s broadband infrastructure and charged the Federal Communications Commission with developing a National Broadband Plan," she continued.
The FCC's more than 300-page collection of broadband guidelines, published early Tuesday, has not the inherent force of law. However, it does set in place a series of regulatory procedures at the agency, with the goal of extending high-speed Internet access to 90 percent of U.S. households by 2020.
Currently, about 65 percent of homeowners have broadband Web connections, according to the FCC.
But many of the National Broadband Plan's recommendations will ultimately require congressional action -- from the sale of wireless spectrum, to changes in how universal service dollars are dispersed.
While some lawmakers have recently signaled interest in transforming those ideas into law, it remains unclear whether members writ large will approve broad swaths of the FCC's plan in the coming months.
However, Pelosi on Monday implored members to take action, stressing the plan "provides Congress with an opportunity to work with the FCC to make this goal a reality."
She later added those reforms would be essential to "ensuring that every American has access to affordable and robust broadband Internet service and the economic opportunities it creates. "
“Just as railroads and highways did in the past, broadband will dramatically increase the productivity and efficiency of our economy in the future and bring more Americans into an online global community and marketplace,” she said.