Economic Stimulus Will Not Include Broadband Internet
Blair Levin, a top aide to President-elect Obama, said that efforts to expand high-speed Internet use throughout the country must rely on existing structures outside the proposed economic stimulus plan.
Advocates of expanding broadband access, along with many technology companies, are working to influence a projected $800 billion stimulus bill being drafted by Democrats in Congress to slow a spiraling U.S. economy and growing unemployment.
Meanwhile, consumer groups want the package to support wider policy goals, such as the promotion of competition for Internet services against leading telecom and cable companies such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast. Many blame the dearth Internet competition for the fact that the U.S. has fallen behind other industrialized nations with respect to Internet speeds and access, and for the higher prices paid by American consumers.
Levin said any component of the stimulus package that relates to broadband Internet services should be “timely, targeted and temporary.”
“You kind of have to use existing structures,” Levin said during a meeting of the Congressional Internet Caucus, adding that Mr. Obama would still pursue policy goals of expanding broadband access and providing a national network for use by public safety officials.
However, “the broadband piece of the Obama agenda is not going to be done solely in the economic recovery package,” he said.