We have a broadband strategy? Bush administration says "yes" in cheerleading report
Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 11:56am
WE HAVE A BROADBAND STRATEGY? BUSH ADMINISTRATION SAYS "YES" IN CHEERLEADING REPORT
[SOURCE: Ars Technica, AUTHOR: Nate Anderson]
[Commentary] You'd be forgiven for thinking that the US doesn't have a comprehensive national broadband policy. But the Bush administration insists that it does have a plan; not only that, but the plan is working spectacularly well. That's the main conclusion of the just-released "Network Nation: Broadband in America 2007", a report from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). What's shocking about the report isn't what it covers, but what it leaves out: it doesn't contain a single extended discussion of the fact that the US has been slipping in a worldwide broadband rankings throughout the decade. That hugely significant fact doesn't mean that the current approach isn't working or that the US is becoming a Luddite paradise, but it does suggest that there are other approaches to be considered, approaches that have proved successful in real-world conditions. As broadband continues to be a key driver of economic opportunity and growth, falling behind the rest of the world will have real consequences for US high-tech leadership. Instead of addressing that crucial question, though, the report is an unabashed celebration of free-market, deregulatory policies. The NTIA describes the Administration's "broadband strategy" as a set of "pro-competitive, deregulatory policies. These include: 1) Technology neutrality: the government doesn't push for any specific technologies; the market will sort out what works best. 2) Deregulation: the government tries to "clear away regulatory obstacles that could thwart the investment that fuels development" of broadband. 3) Tax relief: preventing new taxes on Internet access. 4) Spectrum: free up more wireless spectrum. 5) Rural areas: provide "seed funding" to kickstart broadband rollouts in rural areas. The list seems a bit underwhelming; there's very little here to excite anyone. That's by design, though, since the government's only real "policy" is not to have policies about this sort of thing. The market will then work its unencumbered magic. Is it too much to ask for some sort of vision? Some sort of leadership? Something along the lines of "a chicken in every pot and fiber to every home by 2012"? Even if it's just a national target without any legislative teeth?
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