The FCC now wants to know what the ISPs are spending on upgrading their broadband services to increase performance and provide more services to rural areas. I’m not exactly sure how well this is working, but I know where I live they finally brought DSL service via AT&T to my hood. However, the DSL service only goes to 6MB while my current cable hits 8MB which I’ll stick with for now. I also received a notice from AT&T in the mail stating I could get DSL service without a landline which is a nice change.

But back to the FCC and what they are trying to do. In a recent article it also states that:

Now, the FCC is asking Columbia’s Institute for Tele-Information (CITI) to do an outside review of “projected deployment of new and upgraded networks to help inform the FCC’s efforts in developing the National Broadband Plan.”

This analysis won’t be a mere economic examination of work that might be paid for by the government, either; CITI “will provide an analysis of the public statements of companies as to their future plans to deploy and upgrade broadband networks” but will also do a “historical evaluation of the relationship between previous such announcements and actual deployment.”

Genachowski has promised an FCC decision-making process that is driven by data, and in commissioning the two studies, he appears interested in taking a hard look at two common complaints about US Internet service: 1) that some other countries are doing much better in terms of both speed and competition and 2) that, because of this perceived lack of meaningful competition, US ISPs have turned broadband into a cash cow without making enough investment in faster speeds or better technologies.

If today’s press release sounds dry, it is — but ISPs have gotten the message and are already going public to defend their record of investment. Comcast points out that it previously pledged to upgrade 65 percent of its coverage area to 50Mbps DOCSIS 3.0 by the end of 2009; in an announcement today, the company raised that target to 80 percent (and it plans 100 percent coverage by the end of 2010). Translation: we’re investing! (Which should be easy to do when you just announced a 4.5 percent increase in quarterly revenue, as the company did today.)

Maybe this is exactly what the ISPs need to kick them in the ass and get them moving into the new century. What do you think? Opinions please.

Comments welcome.