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Internet Access For Everyone

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 6 months ago

 

Cohen: Broadband Act First Step for Internet for All 
 

Stating "the United States is stuck with a 20th century Internet in the 21st century," CWA President Larry Cohen urged Congress this week to establish a national Internet policy that will improve the quality, availability, and affordability of broadband service to every community.

 

In testimony before the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, Cohen spoke in support of a discussion draft of the Broadband Census of America Act and called the legislation a significant first step in bringing high speed Internet access to every American.

 

"We desperately need a national Internet policy to reverse the fact that our nation, the country that invented the Internet, has fallen to 16th in the world in high-speed Internet penetration," he said.

"Unfortunately, we don't know the full extent of our problem because our data is so poor. We don't know where high-speed networks are deployed, how many households and small businesses connect to the Internet, at what speed, and how much they pay. Without this information, we can't craft good policy solutions. So we continue to fall farther behind," he told the subcommittee.

 

Cohen urged lawmakers to require the FCC to conduct a national survey of broadband service in the U.S. to determine the price, speed, and availability of broadband services for customers in urban, rural, and suburban areas. "This information will help policymakers determine whether Internet services are affordable, which communities are being left behind, and where to target policy solutions."

 

Average download speeds in the United States – 1.9 megabits per second according to a recent survey by CWA – are dwarfed by speeds available to Internet users in virtually every other industrialized country. In Japan, average download speeds are 61 megabits per second, in South Korea, 45 megabits per second, and in Sweden, 18 megabits per second.

 

Cohen urged lawmakers not to overlook the importance of setting reasonable standards for upload speeds. "Consumers' ability to be able to quickly transmit important medical, educational and financial information will become more essential in the future," he said.

 

He also called on lawmakers to adopt five principles that underscore CWA’s “Speed Matters” policy. These call for establishing a national high-speed Internet policy, affordable and universal service accessible to every community, raising the FCC’s definition of “high-speed” Internet to 2 megabits per second downstream and 1 megabit per second upstream, guaranteeing an open non-discriminatory Internet for all, and public Internet policies that protect the interests of consumers and workers.

 

UNIVERSAL AFFORDABLE BROADBAND FOR ALL AMERICANS

 

How to Modernize Universal Service for the 21st Century

and Connect Americans to a New Era of Digital Opportunity

By Jim Kohlenberger, Senior Fellow, Benton Foundation

September 2007

 

America is falling further behind among industrialized nations in broadband.

 

 

Once a technology leader in the Internet revolution, the United States has

now fallen to 16th among industrialized nations in deploying broadband services. In some places like Japan, Iceland,

South Korea, and the former Yugoslav republic of Slovenia, consumers get Internet connections for the same price

most Americans pay that are significantly more powerful than what is available in the United States. Some countries

are now rolling out ultra-high-speed access that is 500 times faster than what the FCC defines as “broadband.” And

despite the initial rapid uptake of broadband services in the United States, recent data suggest broadband adoption here

is slowing. This trend, combined with the apparent overall slowing of household Internet adoption, should be cause for

national concern.

 

 

We are falling behind on access, speed, and prices.

• Americans often pay twice as much for connections with

1/20 the speed.

• Singapore has a plan to offer its residents one gigabit

per second by 2015. You can already get 100 megabits per

second in Denmark, Japan, Romania, Iceland, Slovenia,

Dubai, parts of Kuwait, and in cities such as Paris and

Prague. In fact, in Iceland, you can get it for $26 a month.3

• According to the FCC, half of all U.S. broadband connections

are slower than 2.5 megabits per second. The FCC’s

200 kbs broadband definition is roughly six times slower

than universal standards.

 

• The International Telecommunication Union’s Digital

Opportunity Index now ranks the United States at 21st,

right after Estonia and tied with Slovenia

this is our generation’s sputniK moment.

 

 

Fifty years ago America faced a similar challenge. In

October 1957, America looked into the skies and saw our

scientific leadership in the world fall from first to second as

Sputnik crossed the night sky. We looked overhead and saw

our competitor racing ahead of us in the critical technology

of the day. We understood that satellites would unleash a

communications revolution which would ultimately prove

critical for our ability to transmit phone calls, extend

communication’s reach into the far corners of the country,

transmit television, and retain our nation’s economic

and national security leadership. In one moment, Sputnik

grabbed America’s attention and we rallied the nation’s

resources around a comprehensive strategy to regain our

technological leadership. President Dwight D. Eisenhower

rallied American scientists and engineers, forming both

NASA and an advanced research agency. The post-Sputnik

sense of urgency powered American innovation for decades,

igniting the growth of the country’s infant semiconductor

and computer industries and laying the foundational technologies

for the Internet. As a result, America unleashed

unprecedented technological advances that built the

world’s most vibrant economy.

 

 

This is now our new Sputnik moment. Instead of

slipping to 2nd place, we have slipped to 20th. Just as

Sputnik forced us to ask how we can regain our lead in

outer space, today we must ask how we can regain our lead

in cyberspace.

 

 

Some in the Bush Administration say America is not

behind in broadband. They say that size matters. They point

to the rankings which measure connections per inhabitants

(where America is falling behind) and argue a better

measure is the total number of broadband connections a

country has. By total number of broadband connections,

America may in fact be ahead—for now. But within weeks,

if not days, China is expected to have more total broadband

connections than does the United States.

 

 

Others argue that when it comes to the President’s

broadband goal—broadband available everywhere in the

nation by 2007—it is already a mission accomplished. They

cite data suggesting that since at least one person in every

zip code has the opportunity to purchase a 200 kbs “high

speed” service, the goal has been met. It’s just that people

have chosen not to purchase broadband, they argue.

 

 

But it is clear Americans Are getting

left Behind!

 

 

Half of Americans lack access. Too few of us have

broadband connections, and those who do pay too much

for service that is too slow. Many households are hostage

to a single broadband provider, and nearly 1/10 have no

broadband provider at all. Only about 50 percent of United

States households subscribe to broadband services,

reflecting too few choices, too high prices, and too limited

service. According to Pew, an estimated 31 million U.S,

households do not have Internet access at all.

 

 

Broadband adoption is highly dependent on socioeconomic status. Almost 60 percent of households with incomes above $150,000 have a broadband connection, Americans Are getting leFt Behind Without the tools to succeed in the 21st century!

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