Bill to spur adoption of broadband in US

Another piece of legislation designed to spur the adoption of high-speed broadband internet connections -- and hopefully boost the economy at the same time -- is on its way, as US Senator Joseph Lieberman announced yesterday that he will unveil such a bill next week.

          Another piece of legislation designed to spur the adoption of high-speed broadband internet connections -- and hopefully boost the economy at the same time -- is on its way, as US Senator Joseph Lieberman announced yesterday that he will unveil such a bill next week.

          Speaking at the offices of embedded software maker Wind River Systems in Alameda, California, Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat, revealed plans to introduce legislation that would establish a national broadband strategy designed to clear the hurdles to adoption and to expand the reach of this high-speed internet technology, according to officials with the senator's office. Lieberman also released a white paper addressing the issues that a national broadband strategy should take into consideration, officials say.

          "For high-tech industries and the American economy at large, bringing on the broadband boom can spark the next sustained surge of economic growth," Lieberman said in a prepared statement. "Unfortunately, the case for making broadband deployment a pivotal piece of our economic puzzle has yet to be understood adequately by government."

          Lieberman isn't alone in his belief that broadband adoption can be boosted through legislation. A number of bills have been proposed within the last year that aim to jump-start broadband through deregulation and other means. And members of President George W Bush's administration have publically stated that broadband adoption is a key goal.

          Legislative and policy proposals have emerged in an attempt to respond to the dearth of consumer interest in broadband. Although approximately 68% of US homes have access to broadband connections, only 9 to 10% of those households subscribe to high-speed internet services, according to research conducted by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

          Lieberman yesterday distanced his broadband proposal from others that he described as too narrow.

          "Many in Washington have been focusing, almost myopically, on short-term obstacles to the next small jump in speed," Lieberman says. "I think we need real vision here."

          Next week Lieberman will introduce the National Broadband Strategy Act of 2002 that will call upon the Bush administration to develop a "coherent, cross-agency broadband strategy," officials say.

          The senator will also devise legislation in the coming months that will require the US Federal Communications Commission to develop a regulatory framework for broadband; offer tax credits for deploying broadband; encourage research and development on the technology; and support research that evaluates how government can rely on broadband applications in areas such as education, health care, and security, officials say.

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