Last updated: January 24, 2013 - 9:15am
[Commentary] President Barack Obama said that during his second term, Americans would act together to “build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores” and that “we cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries — we must claim its promise.” The president is right that digital communication networks — especially high-capacity fiber networks reaching American homes and businesses — can be a powerful economic engine. But we are far away from being able to realize that vision, even as we cede the advantage such technology offers to other countries.
Although Julius Genachowski, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has challenged the country to build additional gigabit fiber networks — about 100 times faster than most residential connections today — his words won’t advance our digital future unless they are backed up with the leadership necessary to enact pro-growth, pro-innovation and competition-enabling rules. At the heart of the problem lie a few powerful companies with enormous influence over policy making.
- Congress must act to restore local communities’ right to self-determination by pre-empting unfair and anticompetitive state laws.
- We must also create infrastructure banks that provide long-term, low-interest financing to support the initial costs of building these networks.
- The FCC must make reasonably priced high-speed access available to everyone.
- The FCC must foster more competition by changing the rules that keep the status quo in place.
[Crawford is a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law]
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