A point-counterpoint on broadband policy:
High-Speed Internet Policy Failure: U.S. Slips to 13th in Broadband Service Worldwide and Digital Divide Grows Under Bush Administration
The report, Expanding the Digital Divide and Falling Behind in Broadband, documents the advantages that Internet households, particularly those with high-speed access, have in conducting economic, social and political activities, and concludes that it is critical to aggressively close the digital divide by promoting universal service at affordable prices for all.
The report notes that in 2001, Chairman Michael Powell and the National Telecommunications Information Administration declared the digital divide a non-problem and proceeded to ignore it, adopting policies to eliminate all public interest obligations for the advanced telecommunications networks used to provide high-speed and voice over Internet service.
The news on broadband isn’t all bad. We are 10th or 11th, depending on the different data points you look at. Yet broadband take-up has been very rapid in this country. By some measures, broadband pick-up has been faster than color TV, the Internet, mobile phones, VCRs, or PCs–it is moving along pretty well. From 7 million broadband subscribers in 2000, we had 24 million in June 2003. That represents a 230 percent increase. There was an independent research report in the news just the other day. The Department of Commerce is going to be coming out with their numbers soon, which will be harder data points that say, “That’s the number.”
Just as the President will not be satisfied until every American who wants a job has a job, he is similarly not satisfied with the rate of the broadband penetration. That is why he set this aggressive target.