WASHINGTON – United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today commented on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) release of the National Broadband Plan to increase broadband Internet access in every corner of the country.

“The National Broadband Plan released by the FCC encourages the nationwide expansion of broadband Internet services to homes and businesses,” Sen. Landrieu said. “Increasing rural small businesses competiveness and improving the quality of education available to our students, broadband expansion has the ability to touch nearly 100 million Americans that are without Internet access and 14 million Americans who could not have access to the service even if they wanted it. Enacting this plan will ensure that businesses in the most unserved and underserved areas of the country have the ability to compete with businesses in more technologically developed areas, spurring economic growth in rural parts of the nation.

“In the coming weeks, the Small Business Committee will hold an oversight hearing to review the impact of the National Broadband Plan on small businesses, particularly businesses in rural areas. We will continue our oversight of the broadband grant initiatives enacted in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to ensure the money is reaching rural small businesses that want to jumpstart their local economies.”

The National Broadband Plan calls for a 10-year period to:

• Connect 100 million households to affordable high-speed internet, building the world's largest market of broadband users and ensuring that new jobs and businesses are created in America;

• Bring affordable high-speed internet access to anchor institutions like schools, hospitals, and military installations so America is hosting the experiments that produce tomorrow's ideas and industries;

• Ensure the United States is leading the world in mobile innovation by making broadband internet newly available for licensed and unlicensed use;

• Move the adoption of high-speed internet rates from roughly 65 percent to more than 90 percent and make sure that every child in America is digitally literate by the time he or she leaves high school;

• Bring affordable broadband to rural communities and vulnerable populations by transitioning existing Universal Service Fund support from yesterday’s analog technologies to tomorrow’s digital infrastructure;

• Promote competition across the broadband ecosystem by ensuring greater transparency, remove barriers to entry, and conduct market-based analysis with quality data on price, speed, and availability; and

• Enhance the safety of the American people by providing every first responder with access to a nationwide, wireless, interoperable public safety network.

Senator Landrieu has been an advocate for broadband Internet expansion - co-sponsoring the Broadband Data Improvement Act that became law in October of 2008. This law encourages the deployment of high-speed Internet access to areas that need it, most notably rural communities. In December 2009, Sen. Landrieu sent a letter to the FCC citing the impact broadband expansion can have on small business growth. To view a copy of Sen. Landrieu’s letter, please click here.

In a February letter to FCC Chair Julius Genachowski, Sen. Landrieu cited several policy recommendations that were included in the National Broadband Plan, including:

• Creation of SBA Broadband and Emerging IT Coordinator;

• Improvement of Broadband Counseling Among SBA Resource Partners;

• Expanding the reach of Entrepreneurial Development Service Via Broadband and Online Applications;

• Creation of Public-Private Partnership on Technology Training for Small Disadvantaged Businesses; and

• Creation of Pilot Entrepreneurial Development Programs Through the Economic Development Administration (EDA).

To read details on these policy recommendations, please read the full letter here.

The complete Plan, along with the press release from the FCC and an executive summary, can be viewed by clicking here.