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New Study Backs and Provides Specifics For A National Broadband Policy

February 1, 2007

In his VoIP Blog today, our own Rich Tehrani offers his thoughts on conclusions drawn in an article entitled Eight Bold Steps to a national Broadband Policy by Jim Baller and Casey Lide.

Rich and I both agree with the analysts' main conclusion, which states:

"The time is long overdue for us to recognize that every public and private entity and every resident in America will benefit from affordable access to world-class national communications infrastructure and that America’s failure to develop one promptly will seriously threaten our ability to remain the great nation to which we become accustomed. To be sure, the established communications providers have a significant role to play, but it would be folly for the United States to leave such a critical matter to them alone."
At least two of these Steps interface entirely with the mission of this blog. So let's look at the details:

Step 2: Enact Federal Legislation

Once support for the development of a National Broadband Strategy has reached critical mass, Congress and the President should ensure that the planning process moves forward in a timely and well-organized fashion.

To do this, Congress and the President should prepare and enact legislation that articulates the nature of the challenge and the stakes involved for America, outlines the key steps to be taken, and provides a sufficient budget to do the job right.

Step 3: Appoint a Blue Ribbon Task Force

While Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and other agencies can provide valuable assistance, we do not believe that they alone can develop a National Broadband Strategy. The Strategy that we envision will be based on the best information available, viewed in imaginative new ways that are not tied to legacy political and legal structures, and will be the product of negotiation among the key stakeholders, whose mission will be to find solutions that benefit all concerned to the maximum extent possible.

To achieve these ends, we recommend that the President and the leadership of Congress appoint a non-partisan, broadly representative blue-ribbon task force.

The task force should include, at a minimum: representatives of federal, state and local governments; providers of communications services, including both established and competitive providers; commercial and residential consumers; developers of software, hardware, equipment, and appliances; utilities; the entertainment industry; the scientific, educational, and medical communities; manufacturers, including members of traditional and new industries; labor; the disadvantaged; the public safety, homeland security, and defense industries; and industries offering promising efficiencies from joint planning and development (transportation) systems, sewers, public works, etc.).

The task force should also include experts in related areas of law, taxation, finance, public and private grants and loans, etc.

Appointees should be knowledgeable, hard-working, positive-minded, articulate, andcharismatic. They should be able to obtain and effectively communicate information to and from the task force. They must also command sufficient respect from their constituencies to be able to represent them in negotiations among members of the task force.

I say amen to all of that.

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