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Regulation

Mr. Lieberman Goes to Silicon Valley

Broadband is fast becoming a hot political issue. Earlier this week, former U.S. Vice Presidential candidate Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) was in California’s Silicon Valley trying to drum up support for his “National Broadband Strategy Act of 2002,” which he plans to officially introduce on Monday.

But experts following broadband policy have not been impressed with Lieberman’s proposals, saying that his involvement in the issue seems to be motivated by the desire to take the spotlight on a hot issue more than anything else.

“I’m sure this was something designed to give him more visibility in the hot tech community,” says Randolph May, a lawyer working for The Progress & Freedom Foundation, a policy think-tank. “I assume he believes that encouraging broadband deployments is a good public policy. But getting behind this issue also enhances his resumé among the tech savvy.”

Indeed, the proposed bill, a draft of which was obtained by Light Reading in advance of its release, does not appear to be earth-shattering legislation. In essence, it calls for President Bush’s administration to issue a report within six months of the bill’s passage outlining how broadband has affected economic productivity in the United States. It would also require the administration to come up with a plan to encourage more deployment of broadband technologies such as digital subscriber line (DSL), cable modems, satellite, and wireless.

While Lieberman’s bill does not make any specific suggestions for what should be in the national broadband policy, he issued a policy white paper earlier this week detailing the issues and making some policy suggestions. In this paper, he proposes tax cuts for both users and suppliers of broadband technology.

Specifically, he says that carriers investing in broadband technology should get at least a 10 percent tax credit, and for those deploying “next-generation” broadband gear, a credit of 20 percent. He also calls for loans and grants for consumer broadband deployments in rural and low-income areas, and he suggests more government investment in research and development to improve broadband technologies.

The tough questions, though, go unanswered. Lieberman appears to be maintaining his distance from issues of competition and regulation. While he believes that all impediments to deploying broadband technologies should be eliminated, he did not address whether or not he believes current regulations are helping or hindering broadband deployment. Furthermore, he offered no opinion on what should be done to change or facilitate the regulatory process for broadband.

“We cannot avoid this debate over competition. There are many other options we can discuss, but no policy is likely to be effective unless it effectively addresses the competition question,” says the policy whitepaper. “It is too soon to propose how we should resolve this question. The attempt here is to provide a fair and balanced summary of the issues and debate.”

Telecom policy experts are unimpressed with Lieberman’s report, saying that it offers few, if any, original solutions.

“His proposal isn’t really helpful,” says May, of The Progress & Freedom Foundation. “It’s disappointing that the major thrust of his policy is a tax-and-spend program. It doesn’t address whether or not regulation is impeding or helping the deployment of broadband in any way.”

May points out that while Lieberman suggests tax cuts for both users and providers of broadband technology, those cuts must come at a price elsewhere in the budget. He also criticizes the fact that Lieberman’s only real mention of regulation is when he directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to come up with a better framework for broadband.

Curiously, the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, which Lieberman currently chairs, has nothing to do with broadband or telecom. Lieberman, who has publicly stated that he would consider running for President in 2004 if former Vice President Al Gore decides not run, may be trying to beef up his political resume with this bill -- perhaps to curry favor with influential votes in tech-heavy California.

Whatever his motivations, supporters of a national broadband policy say Lieberman’s proposal could spur the White House into action. Even though representatives from the administration have stated previously that a policy is in the works, nothing has been officially announced. Spokespeople from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the federal agency that would handle such policy development, declined to comment for this story.

— Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading
http://www.lightreading.com
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photonsu 12/4/2012 | 10:19:21 PM
re: Mr. Lieberman Goes to Silicon Valley I heard Mr. Lieberman say he is technology agnostic, which is political speak for, which way is the wind blowing. Bag of hot air, every one of them, party agnostic!
If they can't see that GLASS is CLEARLY the long term solution, they do not deserve any title that implies leadership qualities!
I'm mad!! Does it show?
wbe 12/4/2012 | 10:19:20 PM
re: Mr. Lieberman Goes to Silicon Valley With the sad demise of telecom and high tech industry, USA is bound to loose it tech edge over other nations. Sadly, no politicians understand the severity of the problem.
rjmcmahon 12/4/2012 | 10:19:19 PM
re: Mr. Lieberman Goes to Silicon Valley Somebody has confused Senator Lieberman causing him to believe there is a "chicken and egg" problem. The network must be built first.

PS. LBJ achieved power when he realized he could bridge the gap between the newly established oil wealth and the political establishment. The oil men didn't have the political abilities required to get what they needed. LBJ derived his power from the oil money which he used to influence the political agenda.

Technology men seem to be in a similar position as the oil men were pre-LBJ.
reoptic 12/4/2012 | 10:19:19 PM
re: Mr. Lieberman Goes to Silicon Valley This is great help to economy, high tech, national productivity, education. He gets it. Thanks Joe!
flanker 12/4/2012 | 10:19:18 PM
re: Mr. Lieberman Goes to Silicon Valley 1) why is reoptic's user rating so high? He posts garbage. I see some rating bias here.

2) "The tough questions, though, go unanswered. Lieberman appears to be maintaining his distance from issues of competition and regulation. While he believes that all impediments to deploying broadband technologies should be eliminated, he did not address whether or not he believes current regulations are helping or hindering broadband deployment. Furthermore, he offered no opinion on what should be done to change or facilitate the regulatory process for broadband."


You hit the nail on the head. This is all hot air, though he shouldn't be faulted for a first cut, and at least he has a policy.

lob 12/4/2012 | 10:19:18 PM
re: Mr. Lieberman Goes to Silicon Valley > With the sad demise of telecom and high tech
> industry, USA is bound to loose it tech edge
> over other nations.

So you vote with your legs... er, emigrate. It's fun, actually. Some parts of the world are a lot more livable than US, and if high-tech moves there it will make many people happier. If not for Silicon Valley being The Place to be if you want to do something new in high-tech, I'd move to Europe. The quality of life (culture, food, entertainment) is much much better over there.
greybeard 12/4/2012 | 10:19:17 PM
re: Mr. Lieberman Goes to Silicon Valley There is an issue here, which the senator correctly wants to address. It appears that he doesn't know precisely what to propose at this time.

But do we have any better ideas? How could the U.S. Government encourage broadband deployment? Tax breaks make as much sense as anything that I have been able to think of.

By the way, concerning those ratings on messages, is "1" the best, or the worst?
obkenobi 12/4/2012 | 10:19:17 PM
re: Mr. Lieberman Goes to Silicon Valley This is true. Sadly they've made it more profitable to develop and produce products overseas.
rjmcmahon 12/4/2012 | 10:19:15 PM
re: Mr. Lieberman Goes to Silicon Valley One more thing.

Define broadband to be 100Mbs or greater. Define anything less than that as fraudband.
rjmcmahon 12/4/2012 | 10:19:15 PM
re: Mr. Lieberman Goes to Silicon Valley But do we have any better ideas? How could the U.S. Government encourage broadband deployment?
____________

A couple of ideas to stimulate discussion.

Define universal service such that it requires competitive providers to exist *before* distributing public resources. For example, only allow universal service dollars to be spent on technologies which support open access competition. A simple test is if a customer can change her dialtone provider in 30 seconds or less.

Add email to universal service definitions.
Make sure it's either provided by a nonprofit organization or by a competitive market. Don't let a monopolist corner our public email ids.

Fund the ERATE program. Minimize the complexity such that our teachers can easily enroll in the program.

Extend the "leave no child behind" program http://www.nochildleftbehind.g... to include "leave no school or library behind". All schools need access to REAL broadband and the educational resources which can be found on the world wide web. Place requirements such that only open access, connectivity networks can serve our public schools and public libraries.

Make all government information, registrations, licensings, etc. available online. (As a side note, a trip to DC to watch the National Postal Museum videos should not be required. All citizens should have equal access to such videos.)

Fix the sales tax laws so local businesses don't have such a huge disadvantage vs. online sales.

Increase the RBOCs penalities to amounts that effect real pain and force them to act when they fail to comply to government rules and regulations. Their treating of government fines like parking tickets makes a mockery of government authority.

Figure how to motivate the FCC to behave like the honorable men and women they can be such that they serve the public interest over that of private interests.

Preclude the RBOCs from giving campaign contributions. Stop their lobbyist from having so much undue influence on PUC legislation and state laws which effect modern communication networks.
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