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Verizon Public Policy Blog Outlines Key Internet Legislative Priorities

December 14, 2006

You can tell a great deal about Verizon's 2007 Congressional legislation priorities from reading their PoliBlog.

As expressed by Verizon's assistnt director for Internet and technology issues Link Hoewing, two of Verizon's key interests in the new Congress will be:

Promoting Broadband Access.   Private sector investment and competition has helped the U. S. move a long way towards ensuring that all Americans have access to broadband networks.  Broadband is now available to more than 80 percent of all Americans and that is a conservative figure given the availability of satellite broadband.   And the number of broadband connections in homes continues to grow at a rapid pace.  Despite this progress, some Americans do not have available competitive broadband connections, particularly in apartment and condominium complexes, and in parts of rural America.   Policy changes focused on lowering the costs of broadband deployment in rural areas (perhaps through expensing or some other form of tax incentives), avoiding the imposition of  more costs on broadband (the Internet Tax Moratorium will expire next year, potentially adding new taxes to broadband service), and changing existing policies to promote access by competing broadband providers to multiple dwelling units (like apartment complexes) would promote the deployment of broadband to all Americans.  

Another key issue: 

Promoting the 21st Century Internet.   Deployment, speeds and the capacity of broadband networks has increased markedly in the U. S. but we are only at the beginning stages of what broadband can do to promote jobs and growth.   Broadband networks that can handle high definition video in BOTH directions, complex medical data such as MRI scans, and multiple video and data communications between homes and businesses can create a platform for growth and societal improvements such as we have never seen before.  Broadband networks based on fiber to the home can offer such capabilities and we are now seeing the deployment of such networks at a pace rivaling countries like Japan.  We have in place policies in the U. S. that have helped stimulate investment in fiber to the home networks but these networks are costly and policy changes that would add to costs (such as the imposition of Internet taxes on broadband referenced earlier) or limit the ability of broadband providers to offer new services on these networks (such as restrictive net neutrality approaches) could undermine the growth of these networks.  Policies promoting the expansion of applications that take full advantage of the capacity offered by fiber to the home networks (such as two-way video home monitoring services for medical patients as discussed in the following sections) and that lower the costs of broadband deployment (i.e., adopting an expensing policy for the deployment of high speed networks) are worth consideration.

Other issues Hoewing writes about include Promoting the Use of Electronic Medical Records, Promoting Telemedicine, Promoting Telework (a big "right on" from this teleworker) and Promoting Accessible Broadband for Seniors and the Disabled.

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