Last updated: January 8, 2009 - 1:41pm
More than two dozen organizations have sent President-elect Barack Obama and Congressional leaders a statement in support of investing in broadband deployment as well as the training, tools and other resources needed to connect those that are currently on the wrong side of the digital divide. Until now, the groups say, US policy has been to largely rely on the private market, particularly incumbent large telephone and cable companies, to determine who has access, what they pay for it, and the speed of U.S. broadband infrastructure. This approach has failed, and business as usual will not suffice. Exclusively relying on the market or private industry will not bring broadband to high-cost areas currently un-served or underserved. We did not bring electricity and phone service to rural America or assure the affordability of service to all by relying on the market alone. We simply cannot rely upon one solution, a handful of companies, or a single model or technology to solve this problem. Nor can we count on seeing tangible results if U.S. policy aimlessly doles out tax breaks or public subsidies without accountability. The stimulus package must not degenerate into corporate welfare, as has too often been the sad fate of subsidies to the private sector. The groups offer a number of principles for a broadband stimulus package: 1) Accountability and Results, 2) A Local Approach, 3) Access and Adoption, and 4) Internet Freedom (Network Neutrality). The groups also called for a National Broadband Strategy.