A Broadband Stimulus – A Chance for Something to Pass in Short Order?

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal had a good article on the prospects for a near-term broadband stimulus plan. The article referenced a Free Press proposal for a 3 year, $44 Billion broadband stimulus plan. This plan just might have a chance, as it has elements that equipment vendors could embrace and incumbent carriers would like. For instance, the plan ties closely to OPASTCO’s point that there is an intrinsic link between video and broadband deployment.

Like the rest of the proposed economic stimulus, it is something that the advocates are trying to push through in short order. This might actually happen, because one of the incentives they are advocating is the creation of a Broadband Infrastructure Fund, as recommended to the FCC by the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service, to provide direct grants of $15 Billion (broadband fund) and $5 Billion (mobility fund).  These funds would be administered by NTIA/USAC, so, potentially, a new bureaucracy would not have to be created (just expanded).

Free Press is also advocating other programs to encourage broadband deployment, which include accelerated depreciation and tax credits. They are also suggesting the “lifeline” programs be extended to broadband, which could mean things like $10 per month subsidies for low-income homes and subsidies for devices that access the Internet.

Their plan is heavily oriented to solving the digital divide between rural and urban areas.  They suggest a minimum of 5 Mb/s down/upstream speeds (specifically to ensure transmission of H.D. video) with incentives to ensure the network can evolve to 100 Mb/s. In general, they are advocating FTTH, as it drives more short-term job creation while providing a better infrastructure for driving long-term economic growth and creating, “Desired social outcomes.”

It will be an interesting first quarter of 2009.   

Author Ken Pyle, Managing Editor

By Ken Pyle, Managing Editor

Ken Pyle is Marketing Director for the Broadband Forum. The mission of this 25+-year-old non-profit “is to unlock the potential for new markets and profitable revenue growth by leveraging new technologies and standards in the home, intelligent small business, and multi-user infrastructure of the broadband network.”

He is also co-founder of Viodi, LLC and Managing Editor of the Viodi View, a publication focused on the rural broadband ecosystem, autonomous vehicles, and electric aviation. He has edited and produced numerous multimedia projects for NTCA, US Telecom and Viodi. Pyle is the producer of Viodi’s Local Content Workshop, the Video Production Crash Course at NAB, as well as ViodiTV. He has been intimately involved in Viodi’s consulting projects and has created processes for clients to use for their PPV and VOD operations, as well authored reports on the independent telco market.

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One reply on “A Broadband Stimulus – A Chance for Something to Pass in Short Order?”

Where is this money going to come from?

The result of this will be that the government will take control of and make more decisions for more private industry. Anytime the government passes out your money, it comes with conditions. Healthy Independents struggling to meet 5mbps speeds on the government’s time table will begin to have reliability issues with bad and not properly tested vendor equipment and economic problems. Our telecommunications infrastructure will once again be put at risk.

The legislators who will approve the maze of regulations that will accompany this “stimulus” do not know anything about the communications business as they have proven that they do not know anything about the real estate, banking, auto, airline, or any other business, but they have managed to pick them off one at a time. Not even being fully recovered from the Deregulation Act, which stole their property, they do not need to suffer another disaster at the hands of the government.

The Congressional Record has over 130,000 pages of active regulations with another 3,000 pending. 14,000 of these have been implemented during the Bush administration. The Congressional Review Act gives legislators 60 days to review a new regulation as to its cost and effects on other regulations. before it is put into effect. California has over 300,000 pages of business related regulations with 200 agencies issuing them. State and Federal legislators are in way over their heads. It is not possible to implement a new regulation without screwing something up.

To summon the legends of the constitution and the free market, our limiting federal government is not supposed to be doing this at all. They are not supposed to have the money to pass out in the form of a stimulus in the first place. A national debt passing $14 trillion proves that they don’t.

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