FCC chairman gives broadband progress report

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski received an award Thursday night at an event held by One Economy, a group that works to bring technology to low-income people.

In accepting the award, Genachowski stressed the challenges people face when they do not have an Internet connection.

"People who don’t have access to broadband are at an increasingly serious disadvantage," he said, according to prepared remarks.

"Our country is not where it needs to be. Broadband access is not where it needs to be. Digital skills and knowledge are not where they need to."

Genachowski said the FCC's National Broadband Plan could help fill in the gaps. His progress report: "A lot of progress. A lot of work to do."

He said National Broadband Plan recommendations that the FCC has already begun implementing include its white-spaces order, reform of pole-attachment rules, a move to free up spectrum for mobile broadband and reform of the E-Rate program to help bring technology into schools.

As for initiatives still on the way, Genachowski named a few: reform the Universal Service program, promote broadband adoption, launch incentive auctions to recover underused spectrum and empower consumers of wired and wireless broadband. (That last one is ambiguous; it could refer to policies ranging from net neutrality to "bill shock.")