Thursday, July 17, 2008

Better Broadband Coverage Coming Soon?

On July 11 a broad-based alliance of companies, organizations, and associations delivered a letter to House and Senate Leaders in support of legislation to better map broadband availability and create public-private partnerships to expand broadband in the United States. The Communications Workers of America has a copy of the letter they and the 29 others signed linked here.

I’ve written frequently here about the broadband divide in our country and how lack of broadband availability and affordability is hurting us. It’s refreshing to see the private corporations (especially the providers) now applying some pressure. Here’s a few interesting quotes from the letter:

We believe Congress should adopt legislation this year that provides federal government support for state initiatives using public-private partnerships to identify gaps in broadband coverage and to develop both the supply of and demand for broadband in those areas. The ability to accelerate deployment and adoption by bringing together government, broadband providers, business, labor, farm organizations, librarians, educators, and consumer groups in public-private partnerships is greater than the ability of these diverse players standing alone.

Adopting a national policy to stimulate subscription where it is already available, and deployment where it is not, could have dramatic and far-reaching economic impacts.

The leading bills pending before Congress (S. 1492, the Broadband Data Improvement Act and H.R. 3919, the Broadband Census of America Act of 2007) would improve information-gathering about current broadband deployment and assist in targeting resources to areas in need of such services.

The letter also quotes a Connected Nation study released in February 2008 that estimates the total annual economic impact of accelerating broadband across the nation to be more than $134 billion. This same study also found that if broadband adoption were to be increased by just seven percent, it would result in an additional:

$92 billion through an additional 2.4 million jobs per year created or retained;

$662 million saved per year in reduced health care costs;

$6.4 billion per year in mileage savings from unnecessary driving;

$18 million in carbon credits associated with 3.2 billion fewer pounds of CO2 emissions per year in the United States; and

$35.2 billion in value from 3.8 billion more hours saved per year from accessing broadband at home.

Perhaps a little “green pressure” is what it will take to get this done in this country.

Here’s a list of those that signed the letter:

AT&T, Alliance for Public Technology, American Association of People with Disabilities, American Library Association, Cablevision, Charter Communications, The Children’s Partnership, Comcast, Communications Workers of America, Connected Nation, Cox Communications, EDUCAUSE, Embarq, Independent Telephone & Telecommunications Alliance, Information Technology Industry Council, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Internet Innovation Alliance, NIC, Inc., National Cable and Telecommunications Association, National Farmers Union, The National Grange, National Rural Health Association, Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies, Qwest, Time Warner Cable, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, United States Telecom Association, Verizon, Western Telecommunications Association, Windstream


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