“Building a Broadband Strategy for America”

by on February 19, 2008 · 12 comments

It’s on the tip of nearly everyone’s tounge: America needs a National Broadband Strategy. With Capital Letters. Now. Or at least by January 20, 2009.

Seriously, it is amazing how much consensus there seems to have developed on this simple point. From the Bell carriers to Googlers, from public interest groups to local legislators, from Democratic activists critical of anything and everything done by the Bush administration to rural Republicans who finally want the Universal Service Fund to cover high-speed Internet services: they all want a National Broadband Strategy.

The only remaining question is: What sort of Broadband Strategy? The debate will begin at the 2008 Politics Online Conference.


Politics Online, of course, that great watering hole that sits at the intersection of smart politics, good governance, transparent democracy and innovative technology. In previous years, the conference has highlighted just how significant the Internet has become to the political process. This year, Politics Online is also branching into public policy — at least where it comes to broadband policy.

Here’s the description for the keynote panel that I’ll be moderating, on, you guessed it, “Building a Broadband Strategy for America:”

Broadband penetration in the United States lags behind the rest of the world. At the same time, tough new questions regarding access and fairness face policymakers.

Join an interactive look about why broadband matters and how the political process will affect the future of the Internet at “Building a Broadband Strategy for America,” a keynote conversation at the 2008 Politics Online Conference.

We’ve got a great keynote panel lined up for the event. I’ll lead the discussion in a question -and-answer session with top officials from three of the major players in the debate over broadband.

  • Federal Communications Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, who has traveled the country attempting to rally Americans behind the concept of a National Broadband Strategy.
  • Tim Wu, the Professor of Law at Columbia University who coined the term “Net Neutrality,” and who last year extended the Net Neutrality debate to the wireless world by criticizing mobile carriers that lock their handsets, like the iPhone.
  • Eric Werner, a Senior Advisor at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, in the Bush Administration. NTIA recently issued a report on the President’s goal to have universal and affordable broadband by 2007.

This keynote panel promises to be a great event. It takes place from 12:30 p.m.-2 p.m. on Tuesday, March 4, at the Renaissance Washington Hotel. Contact the sponsor, the Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet, at George Washington University, for information on attending.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    That looks like an interesting panel. I’d like to ask Prof. Wu a question on his position re: America’s sucky broadband. He (and his buddy Susan Crawford) argue that the more regulation the government puts on the first mile, the more money companies will invest. They want “structural separation”, unbundling, and a general ban on the sale of services by the company that brings a broadband cable to your home.

    This seems a little counter-intuitive to me, so I’d like to know what business psychology it addresses. Does he think that business people invest most in the areas with the least chance of a reasonable rate of return? Really? Or does he just want to take carriers out of the picture and have the government wire the neighborhood.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    That looks like an interesting panel. I’d like to ask Prof. Wu a question on his position re: America’s sucky broadband. He (and his buddy Susan Crawford) argue that the more regulation the government puts on the first mile, the more money companies will invest. They want “structural separation”, unbundling, and a general ban on the sale of services by the company that brings a broadband cable to your home.

    This seems a little counter-intuitive to me, so I’d like to know what business psychology it addresses. Does he think that business people invest most in the areas with the least chance of a reasonable rate of return? Really? Or does he just want to take carriers out of the picture and have the government wire the neighborhood.

  • http://richvsreach.com Matt Sherman

    Drew, have you considered getting a market-oriented person on that panel? Someone not in government?

    A point I fear will be missed is that we have many broadband strategies, each being run by separate companies, and not on the taxpayer’s dime. The question should be whether the gov’t can possibly do better with one “national” plan instead of multiple competitive ones.

    (I was on TLF’s TPW #35 on this topic.)

  • http://richvsreach.com Matt Sherman

    Drew, have you considered getting a market-oriented person on that panel? Someone not in government?

    A point I fear will be missed is that we have many broadband strategies, each being run by separate companies, and not on the taxpayer’s dime. The question should be whether the gov’t can possibly do better with one “national” plan instead of multiple competitive ones.

    (I was on TLF’s TPW #35 on this topic.)

  • http://www.drewclark.com Drew Clark

    You don’t want me to regale you on all the Republican policy-makers that we have invited, and yet who have declined, the opportunity to participate, do you?

    Besides, isn’t the Bush administration market-oriented enough?

    Drew Clark

  • http://www.drewclark.com Drew Clark

    You don’t want me to regale you on all the Republican policy-makers that we have invited, and yet who have declined, the opportunity to participate, do you?

    Besides, isn’t the Bush administration market-oriented enough?

    Drew Clark

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Whoever you get for your panel, as moderator you can ask Wu to explain the regulation->investment formula. I’d really love to understand it better because I’m not versed in such things.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Whoever you get for your panel, as moderator you can ask Wu to explain the regulation->investment formula. I’d really love to understand it better because I’m not versed in such things.

  • http://richvsreach.com/ Matt Sherman

    I don’t doubt it Drew! Hopefully Ted Stevens wasn’t on the list. :)

    Not sure the Bush admin is market enough, frankly. They’re still gov’t after all — no one actually wants to shrink the organization that pays their check. Eg, Kevin Martin.

    How about one the fine folks here at TLF? Tim Lee? Adam? Very credible folks.

  • http://richvsreach.com/ Matt Sherman

    I don’t doubt it Drew! Hopefully Ted Stevens wasn’t on the list. :)

    Not sure the Bush admin is market enough, frankly. They’re still gov’t after all — no one actually wants to shrink the organization that pays their check. Eg, Kevin Martin.

    How about one the fine folks here at TLF? Tim Lee? Adam? Very credible folks.

  • http://tieguy.org/ Luis

    Richard: got any pointers on that particular Wu position?

  • http://tieguy.org/ Luis

    Richard: got any pointers on that particular Wu position?

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