FCC needs more time for broadband plan?

LAS VEGAS--It appears the FCC needs additional time to prepare the National Broadband Plan and will not be able to meet the Feb. 17 deadline set by Congress.

I'm still waiting for a response from Chairman Julius Genachowski's office, but Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell just put out a statement expressing his disappointment.

"I am disappointed that the FCC's broadband team is unable to deliver a national broadband plan to Congress by the statutorily mandated deadline," he said. "At the same time, I appreciate that Chairman Genachowski shared the news of his decision with me Tuesday afternoon.  Once we receive a draft plan, I hope the document will reflect the benefit of the additional time being taken to prepare it."

Fairly cryptic, considering no official announcement has come from the FCC.

McDowell said on C-SPAN's most recent "Communicators" program that it is unclear whether commissioners will vote on the plan before it is presented to Congress.

The FCC will likely take some heat if it does not deliver the long-awaited plan next month. The agency's broadband task force, headed by Blair Levin, has been working around the clock to put the strategy together. And few other proceedings have been tackled at the agency in the past couple of months because so many issues hinge on the conclusions put forth in the broadband plan. The plan will likely spark a number of policy initiatives at the FCC.

Details are still fuzzy, but I'll keep you posted. Genachowski may currently be on his way to Las Vegas and unreachable.

Meanwhile, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is about to give his keynote address to officially kick off the Consumer Electronics Show.