Monday, February 26, 2007

California bill would add broadband to lifeline service for low income residences

Sen. Alex Padilla (D-San Fernando) has introduced legislation that would require the California Public Utilities Commission to include broadband Internet access in the state's existing lifeline program that provides discounted POTS to low income households.

With telcos like AT&T offering DSL promo rates for residential customers who can get its underpowered DSL service for as little as $13 a month, Padilla's proposal would certainly appear within the realm of possibilities.

However, public policymakers and residential broadband providers should also consider more flexible pricing strategies that allow providers to cover increased deployment costs in less densely populated portions of their service areas outside of urban centers. As things currently stand, too many residences in these areas must choose between cheap but impractically slow dial up and costly services such as satellite -- more appropriate to extremely remote locations of the U.S. -- and T-1 lines which were never intended for residential customers. There's a price point in the middle for fast, reliable wire line broadband and the providers should offer services to meet it.

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