Broadband Stimulus Should Focus on Unserved Areas and Demand-Side Obstacles, Verizon Tells Agencies
Recovery Act Presents ’Unprecedented Opportunity’
WASHINGTON - The $7 billion-plus broadband stimulus program contained in the nation’s economic recovery act presents an “unprecedented opportunity” to extend advanced broadband networks across the nation and to stimulate jobs and the economy, Verizon said Monday (April 13). But, to maximize that opportunity, the program should focus on two key objectives: extending broadband Internet connections to unserved areas, and addressing demand-side factors that hamper growth of broadband subscriptions, such as the lack of a computer in many households.
In recommendations filed today with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), the two federal agencies in charge of the program, Verizon said 90 percent of U.S. households have access to broadband, and that of the households that have computers, 80 percent of them subscribe to broadband services.
“In reliance on the light-touch regulatory approach designed to encourage network investment, broadband providers have invested hundreds of billions of dollars - and employed hundreds of thousands of employees - to deploy wireline and wireless broadband networks widely throughout the vast majority of the country,” Verizon told the agencies. “Notwithstanding these successes, work remains to be done to achieve ubiquitous broadband availability and adoption.” Verizon also noted:
"Everyone shares the goal of ubiquitous broadband availability - and its widespread adoption - throughout the nation. The recovery act’s broadband programs provide an unprecedented opportunity to address obstacles to that goal.
“NTIA and RUS should focus the substantial, but limited, resources allocated to these programs to address the most pressing needs - extending broadband to unserved areas and addressing demand-side factors that limit broadband adoption.”
Verizon suggested three principles to guide the broadband stimulus program, which is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009: Be open to a wide range of projects to help finish what has already been started; rely on state and local expertise in identifying unserved areas; and maintain transparency and accountability.
“The top priority and primary goal should be to get broadband service to unserved areas while creating jobs and fostering economic activity - and the best way to achieve that goal is to encourage a wide range of proposals by providers (including qualified private entities) capable of effectively building and managing broadband facilities on a sustainable basis,” Verizon wrote.
Verizon also stressed the need for quick action on the part of the agencies cooperating to produce an economic stimulus, and the importance of administering the programs in a way that encourages broad participation.
“In order to ensure that the recovery act’s broadband programs do not get bogged down in regulatory wrangling that would undermine quick job creation and economic stimulus, NTIA and RUS also should avoid imposing regulatory ’strings’ or eligibility criteria that will deter participation or otherwise inhibit sustainable broadband investment and job creation,” the company noted.
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