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National Broadband Plan Signals Progress But Hard Choices Ahead
WASHINGTON - March 15 - In response to the release of the executive summary of the Federal Communications Commission's National Broadband Plan, Free Press Executive Director Josh Silver made the following statement:
"The FCC's National Broadband Plan represents a decisive break from the policies of the Bush administration. The Plan makes clear that high-speed Internet access has become a ‘must have' critical public service like water, electricity and telephone service. Closing the digital divide is now a national priority. The agency staff should be commended for pouring countless hours of hard work into preparing this blueprint for America's broadband future.
"We strongly support the FCC's goals of bringing world-class speeds and affordable prices to American broadband consumers. The commitment to universal access and near-universal adoption in the next decade is the most important infrastructure challenge of this era. Ambitious benchmarks to put the United States back among the world's leading broadband nations are exactly what we need at a time of economic uncertainty. We are especially pleased to see policies focused on the digital have-nots and a clear commitment to erasing the digital divide.
"But there are no easy paths to reach these goals. To put the market to work for American consumers, the FCC will need to foster competition to drive down prices and drive up speeds. This will require confronting the market power of the cable and telephone giants that control the broadband market. The problems caused by the lack of competition are what led the Congress to order up a National Broadband Plan. While the FCC does take some important steps toward a new framework for competition policy, many of the critical questions are deferred for further review. We hope the plan will confront the competition problems directly, and will include specific policies to put consumers first. Implementing the policies needed to bring every American affordable, robust broadband will require courageous leadership and a willingness to stand up to narrow corporate interests.
"We stand in strong support of the goals and direction laid out by this plan. We hope the FCC will move forward quickly. Our commitment is to make every effort to bring smart ideas and public support to the FCC in the months to come to help tackle these problems and win big results for the American public."