The plan the FCC has been developing as mandated by Congress last year is finally out. Just trying to digest the executive summary it is apparent why the full plan was late. It is gargantuan at least in part due to the FCC’s earnest attempt to respond to public comment and input. It is going to take some time to complete a full analysis even by folks following this much more closely with far more expertise to bring to bear.
One aspect, the goal of affordability, already seems to be failing closer scrutiny. I saw this message forwarded to the NNSquad mailing list that finds little if any evidence for prices actually being directly decreased by the plan. The analysis is being vetted but if it is accurate, this is disappointing. The whole point of criticizing the early lack of attention on competition was to help drive down cost as well as to improve consumer choice. While the FCC has made some moves in the plan to better address those complaints–re-assessing wholesale regulations and improving transparency–there does not appear to be any direct action that would demonstrably make broadband more affordable, especially to the poor.
Despite concerns over hurdles the plan yet has to clear, what is important to note is that Congress still has time to further discuss the proposals and either adopt or abandon them as they start to make new law. If you want a more digestible view of what Congress will be considering, I recommend Nate Anderson’s preliminary analysis at Ars Technica.