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Obama Brings a New Attitude to Broadband

Wandering back to work this morning after a long weekend full of Obama, I stopped to check out the new White House website. With a new Administration comes a new website and it was impressive to see that the Obama Administration had its nicely produced website up and running already. I quickly searched for “broadband” and was not disappointed. The tech-savvy new Administration had this to say:

Deploy a Modern Communications InfrastructureDeploy Next-Generation Broadband: Work towards true broadband in every community in America through a combination of reform of the Universal Service Fund, better use of the nation’s wireless spectrum, promotion of next-generation facilities, technologies and applications, and new tax and loan incentives. America should lead the world in broadband penetration and Internet access.

Now this is change that I can believe in! For most of this decade, it was difficult to get almost any government official to talk about broadband, let alone do something about our inadequate broadband infrastructure. And while the deregulatory policies of the past Administration helped bring vast amounts of private capital to extend and improve broadband services, there was no recognition that perhaps government could do more. The market would eventually bring broadband to all and we should not worry that other countries were building better and faster broadband infrastructure than what is available to most Americans. The new Administration sees things differently. No doubt that they are going to rely on private sector investment for the bulk of broadband deployment and improvements. Competition between cable and telephone companies is unleashing investment in faster broadband and better voice and video services. That is a positive dynamic that should not be altered. But there is a recognition that the market will not provide the optimal result in an optimal timeframe. So the new Administration proposes reasonable government intervention to provide broadband in rural areas with little or no broadband. They want to use tax and loan provisions to encourage faster upgrades of existing facilities. They want America to have the best infrastructure for broadband, not the second best.Since 2002, Cisco has been calling for 100 mbps connections to American households, with an eye toward accomplishing this goal by 2010. We will not meet this goal in 2010, but with the attitude of the Obama Administration, we stand a great chance of getting there sooner.

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