Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Media think tank faults flawed U.S. telecom regulation for shortcomings in broadband access

U.S. telecommunications regulators operate without a clear overall policy goal and Americans consequently have less access to broadband services than Europeans, a media think tank concludes in a paper issued this week.

[W]hile the European Union has defined its issues focused on their definition at the highest levels of policymaking and seems to be addressing the challenge created by social inequity, Congress is mired in regulating the relationship among the operators. Instead of managing competition it manages the competitors. It perceives the issue as one that arises from the need to allow operators to provide certain services, and as a result the regulator does not deliberate the goals of the policy. Indeed the focus of policy in the United States is on the needs of the industry and not on public service.

According to the Benton Foundation:

America is on the verge of vast new broadband-driven digital transformation that promises to make life more livable, businesses more productive, jobs more plentiful, and the Internet more accessible. However, at the dawn of this digital age, those who could benefit the most from this economically empowering technology are also those most likely to be left without access because of where they live or how much money they make.

As Congress puts universal service reform at the top of its telecom policy agenda, this page will provide a one-stop collection of papers and speeches advancing a new vision for Universal Service -- for making broadband as universal as telephone service is today and a pathway for progress. This effort will embrace the premise that Universal Broadband access is now as important to the advancement of the American ideal of equal opportunity in the 21st century as universal access to education and universal phone service was in the last.

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