“It's another way to interact with the public, and it's appropriate that we're using the Internet to further a plan that will affect broadband,” said Mark Wigfield, FCC spokesman for the National Broadband Plan Initiative, who added that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski had charged the agency with greater use of social media. “This chairman is very much into technology and wants the FCC to come into the 21st Century as far as the technology it uses.”
While the blog and broadband.gov will focus on high-speed Internet infrastructure, the agency's Twitter account will be used for a number of topics, Wigfield said. He added that the agency could use additional social media platforms in the future, but declined to provide specific plans.
The agency is also conducting public workshops on broadband, and is planning national public hearings this fall, he said.
The FCC is developing a national broadband plan to present to Congress next February. The Obama administration has allocated $7.2 billion in stimulus funds to boost national broadband infrastructure.
Earlier this month, a coalition of consumer and technology advocacy groups sent a letter to Genachowski urging the agency to collect broadband information more intricately than in the past. Free Press, the Consumer Federation of America, New America Foundation, Media Access Project, Public Knowledge, and Consumers Union urged the FCC to report broadband access on a census-block level, rather than by zip code, as well as to coordinate with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration on data collection.
“I think we are seeing a sea change here where it is no longer thought of as a discretionary expense but a critical infrastructure for this country, as well as an economic engine and a quality of life issue,” said Joel Kelsey, policy analyst at Consumers Union. “It's the proper role of government to make sure there is affordable universal access to all the opportunities it provides.”