Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Kerry Criticizes Bush For Not Keeping Promises on Broadband

Kerry chides Bush administration on broadband

By Jeremy Pelofsky

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry accused the Bush administration on Tuesday of falling behind in its goal to make high-speed Internet service, known as broadband, universally available by 2007.

The Massachusetts Democrat said the Federal Communications Commission was holding up action that would allow companies to use extra airwaves in between television channels that were not being utilized.

During the 2004 presidential campaign, U.S. President George W. Bush set a target date of 2007 for making affordable high-speed Internet service universally available. Since then, he has not discussed the goal in detail.

“Despite the president’s promise of ubiquitous broadband by 2007, we are clearly, now well into 2006, short of that goal,” Kerry said at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing. “Only 40 percent of households in America have it.”

“It seems, incredibly, the FCC is sitting on the rulemaking that will help correct this problem,” Kerry said.

An FCC spokeswoman declined to comment, as did a spokesman for the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which often serves as the Bush administration’s voice on communications policy.

The Telecommunications Industry Association said earlier this month there were about 41.2 million broadband subscribers at the end of 2005. It said the number would reach 69.2 million by 2009.

Most subscribers get broadband from telephone or cable providers, but there has been a push for wireless broadband service in part because facilities can be cheaper to deploy and could cover a wider area.

Yet the idea has run into resistance from television broadcasters, who are nervous about allowing other users to operate in the television bands without licenses, which they say could cause interference.

“We’re not opposed to new technology. We are opposed to creating interference that will result in 300 million Americans not being able to watch digital television,” said Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters.

Bipartisan legislation has been offered in the Senate that would require the FCC to permit unlicensed use of airwaves between television stations as long as it does not cause harmful interference.

Intel Corp. has pushed the FCC and Congress to permit the use of those airwaves for broadband.

“This spectrum could offer enormous advantages for wide area wireless broadband services, such as WiMax, in rural and underserved areas,” Kevin Kahn, a senior fellow and director at Intel’s communications technology laboratory, said in written testimony to the Senate committee.

WiMax is a high-speed wireless Internet technology that has longer range than other wireless technology called Wi-Fi.


Post a Comment

<< Home