WASHINGTON – US Representative Edward J. Markey has filed a bill to advance a far-reaching new Federal Communications Commission report that aims to spread broadband access to broad swaths of the country.
Markey’s legislation, called the Electricity Consumers’ Right to Know Act (or e-KNOW), would allow consumers to track their use of electricity for free and in real time by being connected to data from utility companies using mobile devices. That technology would only be useful, though, if broadband access becomes more widespread.
It could mean allowing consumers to turn off an air conditioner from work, or turn the heat on during the commute home.
“We really have to move conceptually from iPhones to iFridges,” Markey said in an interview. “That is the next step in the energy and electricity sector.”
The idea is to cut down on energy consumption by more easily showing people how much they are using and where.
“It will be like people who now look at their dashboard in their Prius or Camry Hybrid can monitor how many miles per gallon they are able to move on any one particular trip,” Markey said. “If they want, they’ll be able to access all of the information about how every appliance in their home – including air conditioning and heating – in real time, all day long.”
The FCC released the 376-page plan yesterday. The overarching goal is to make broadband, which enables high-speed internet access, available to more Americans. Some of the recommendations include expanding mobile broadband, which would help police and fire department stay better connected.
The FCC can make some of the changes without any congressional action, but many of the proposals will need supportive lawmakers to help shepherd legislation through.
Markey is one of the more likely to take up the cause, and he argues that broadband access is one of the key indictors for economic growth.
“We need a new plan. We need to think through what is the best way to insure that the United States -- and greater Boston – is a disproportionate beneficiary of broadband technology and its application,” Markey said. “We need to reboot the high-tech sector of our country by insuring that we have the highest speed, most affordable, ubiquitous broadband in the world.”
Markey was the congressman who put the mandate for the FCC to complete the broadband plan into the federal stimulus legislation that Congress passed last year.
Markey has long been a leading proponent of the national broadband movement and is a senior member and former chairman of the Energy and Commerce Communications, Technology and the Internet Subcommittee.
Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.