Saturday, August 13, 2016

Extending incrementalism of current U.S. telecom infrastructure modernization programs won't acheive ambitous Clinton campaign pledge of universal service by 2020

Hillary Clinton's Broadband-for-All Plan Faces Hurdles: In seeking universal, affordable broadband access, the Democratic candidate is aiming to “close the digital divide,” according to her campaign website. Clinton pledges to deliver on this goal with continued investments in the Connect America Fund, the Rural Utilities Service program and the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, and by directing federal agencies to consider the full range of technologies—including fiber, fixed wireless and satellite—as potential recipients.
These are existing programs that simply aren't big and bold enough to achieve Clinton's goal of universal advanced telecommunications service by 2020. They preserve the vertically integrated, investor-owned, closed access network and subscription-based business model that produces widespread market failure leaving too many American premises unable to obtain service. Two of these programs are aimed at rural areas and thus fail to address the fact that much of America's infrastructure gaps exist outside of rural areas as Clinton herself pointed out in an economic policy speech this week.

The programs cited by Clinton embody the incrementalist thinking that is part of the problem and not part of the solution that requires a radically new approach. Meeting her objective on telecom infrastructure will require a far more aggressive policy such as the National Telecommunications Infrastructure Initiative outlined in my 2015 eBook, Service Unavailable: America’s Telecommunications Infrastructure Crisis.

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