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Rep. Markey Outlines Broadband Improvements Agenda

February 7, 2007

U.S. House Energy and Commerce Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee Chairman Edward Markey, D-Mass. isn't pleased with the penetration rates for U.S. broadband. "We are still at the stage that having any broadband plan at all would represent an improvement," he said in remarks at the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) conference recently.

Some of Rep. Markey's comments were quite colorful. He said that the speed of service offered via cable modems and the digital subscriber lines of telecommunications companies "wouldn't even qualify as broadband in many countries abroad unless they arrived to the home with a good gust of wind behind them."

Markey discounts the Federal Communications Commission's definition of broadband as speeds of more than 200 kilobits per second. Markey noted that Japanese homes can receive up to 100 mbps, and that residential broadband speeds  in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland, Australia and Canada are even faster.

By virtue of his post, Rep. Markey may well be in a position to do something about this. And judging from his remarks to the CFA, he plans to do just that.

Rep. Markey said that in the next few years, Markey wants his Subcommittee to "fashion together a policy blueprint" that includes broadband that is affordable and fast, with an open architecture that supports Internet freedom.

Rep. Markey added that his Subcommittee's agenda in the 110th Congress "will be the unfinished business" that got stuck in previous legislative sessions, he said. He said the Subcommittee will look at strengthening the e-rate program, which subsidizes Internet access in schools and libraries, and will discuss ways that all Americans can get broadband access.

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