Originally published: September 16, 2008
Last updated: September 16, 2008 - 6:34pm
Congress must set goals for broadband rollout and speed, and increase financial incentives for broadband providers to expand and improve their networks, witnesses at a U.S. Senate hearing said Tuesday. The US trails behind several countries in both average broadband speed and broadband adoption, and the U.S. needs a national policy focused on increasing both those numbers, said Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) labor union. Several witnesses offered support for the Broadband Data Improvement Act, a bill that would take several steps to improve data collection about broadband services across the U.S. "We don't even map out in our country where we stand on broadband," Cohen said. "Step one is we need to know where we stand." The full Senate hasn't voted on the act, which was introduced in May 2007. Rey Ramsey, chairman and CEO of One Economy, a nonprofit organization focused on bringing technology to low-income people, called on Congress to set broadband goals for the U.S. that don't exist in policy today. The government needs to also focus on broadband applications, such as telemedicine and distance learning, that will drive broadband adoption and private investment, he said. "We are falling behind," he said. "We're not doing enough in applications." Senators offered little pushback on the witnesses' calls for a national broadband policy. However, some conservatives, broadband providers and free-market think tanks have questioned broadband statistics showing the U.S. is behind several other industrialized nations in broadband adoption.
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