[RTC List] Broadband stimulus?
sean at accesshumboldt.net
Wed Dec 3 11:18:46 PST 2008
Internet-Access Funds To Be Included In US Stimulus Plan
December 02, 2008: 04:16 PM EST
WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- The federal government's economic stimulus
package will include investment in broadband Internet infrastructure and
funds to upgrade and repair the national power grid alongside more
traditional funding for road and bridge repair, a senior aide to House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D- Calif., said Tuesday.
Details of the package including how much money will be included in the
larger economic rescue package for the technology investments and how
such funding would be allocated are still being worked out, the aide said.
The overall size of the package, including an income tax cut for the
majority of working Americans, could be around $500 billion, but that
too is still being finalized.
The investments in technology infrastructure would fit in with Pelosi's
determination that the spending package not only gives the ailing U.S.
economy a short-term jolt, but also pays dividends over the longer term,
the aide said.
A substantial investment in upgrades to the country's power grid could
be a precursor to a revamped energy policy placing more emphasis on
renewable energy technologies - a key priority of both Pelosi and
President-elect Barack Obama.
Similarly, the goal of universal broadband Internet coverage was often
mentioned by Obama on the campaign trail.
Unlike other traditional forms of infrastructure spending, the backbone
to the Internet has largely been financed by private companies in the U.S.
Congress could opt to provide hefty tax credits to the phone and cable
companies who have been responsible for the rollout of broadband
Or lawmakers could opt to expand existing subsidies to the companies to
offset the costs of providing high-speed Internet service in rural,
underpopulated parts of the country.
A third option would be to increase aid to states, which are likely to
have a better idea where Internet service isn't currently available.
Several major technology and communications companies including Google
Inc. ( GOOG), AT&T Inc. (T), Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ),
Alcatel-Lucent (ALU), and Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) have joined forces
with unions, state governments, and advocacy groups to press the case
for the inclusion of Internet build-out incentives in the stimulus package.
"We're reasonably confident that if we work together like we are here
that we can see broadband incentives in the economic recovery package in
January," Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen said
More than 50 companies and organizations that have previously disagreed
on some aspects of Internet policy signed on to a statement saying Obama
should make high-speed Internet access a top national priority.
Cohen said 100,000 jobs could be created by immediately investing in
more high-speed Internet networks across the country. "Jobs is the best
single stimulus," he said.
The demand for services created by broadband Internet access could
create another two million jobs, Cohen argued.
As with his campaign, Obama's transition operation regularly refers to
Internet access as an important factor in creating jobs and spurring
The "call to action" statement that the CWA and companies have signed
says Internet access could be boosted in underserved areas through tax
incentives, grants, low-cost loans, loan guarantees and government
-By Corey Boles and Fawn Johnson, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-6601;
corey.boles at dowjones.com and fawn.johnson at dowjones.com
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