IN PERSPECTIVE: Obfuscatory prestiloquadation

Fri, 02/29/2008 - 7:20pm
Brian Santo, Editor

Brian Santo

The U.S. lost its lead in
broadband and now lags
at least a dozen countries

The NTIA in its recent report “Networked Nation” attributes broadband growth in the U.S. to the Bush Administration’s implementation in 2000 of a “comprehensive and integrated package of technology, regulatory and fiscal policies.”

That’s presumably a reference to free market economics. Deliberately doing nothing is a policy, and this Administration did nothing about broadband comprehensively…if you ignore the actions of its FCC, as the NTIA does.

It also argues that Bush’s broadband policy has been an unqualified success…despite the qualification that the U.S. lost its lead in broadband and now lags at least a dozen countries, all with active broadband policies, all with more widely available broadband access, at greater rates of speed, typically for far less money.

The U.S. has nine months more to go of that, and then what to expect of the next administration?

Not much, unless you live in the boonies.

John McCain laments the U.S. has slipped from second to 19th in world rankings. He’s for greater rural access.

Hillary Clinton vows to strengthen tax incentives for extending broadband to underserved areas, and provide financial support for state and local broadband initiatives.

Mike Huckabee is for improving rural broadband access.

Barack Obama plans to use the Universal Service Fund to help support rural broadband access. He wants to make better use of wireless spectrum, and promote the deployment of next-generation facilities, technologies and applications. He glances obliquely off net neutrality, taking a stand against anti-competitive practices on the Internet.

Not much to base a decision on. So if broadband is the issue, what are the criteria for choosing?

We can count on the Republicans to say they’re for laissez-faire, but given the FCC of the last seven years, there’s no assurance deeds will match words.

The Democrats are prone to meddling. The question is: how much? Given that communications policy isn’t top-of-mind for the remaining candidates, there’s a possibility it would be minimal.

Meanwhile, I don’t know anyone who likes being treated as if they’re stupid, so I’m sure you’ll all join me in wishing good riddance to the NTIA ninnyhammers who wrote “Networked Nation.”



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