Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Think tank urges federal investment in broadband infrastructure

A paper published this week by the Center for American Progress concludes broadband deployment cannot be left in the hands of the private sector. This policy has left much of America unable to access advanced telecommunications services and placing the nation at a competitive disadvantage to other industrialized nations.

Instead, the United States should undertake a massive federal investment in advanced telecommunications infrastructure using a variety of technologies on a scale like the Eisenhower administration's National Highway Program in the mid 1950s that built America's interstates.

Writes Mark Lloyd, author of the paper, Ubiquity Requires Redundancy The Case for Federal Investment in Broadband:

The United States will not meet President Bush’s goal of universal broadband by the end of 2007—not by a long shot. The number of subscribers to Internet services is growing faster than the adoption of “dial-up,” yet for the most part these subscribers are not connected to the broadband technology Congress described in 1996 as a two-way communications service capable of high-speed delivery of data, voice, and video.

This failure to connect over half the country to advanced telecommunications service is not a technological failure. It is a 21st century public policy failure. In the 1990s, policies established by the Clinton administration to encourage public/private telecommunications partnerships, to connect schools and libraries to the World Wide Web, and to allow competitive service providers onto the networks of the local telephone monopolies all sped up the deployment of broadband around most of the nation. These policies were either deliberately abandoned or hampered by the Bush administration.

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