Bush, Kerry, and Broadband for Every Home
Finally U.S. presidential race is addressing the issue of universal access to high-speed Internet and its criticality for the future of the U.S. and global development. President Bush in his speech on March 26, 2004 in New Mexico, spoke of the need for a national goal for broadband technology, and talked of a "bold plan for broadband", to ensure staying on the cutting edge of technological change. He said:
"This country needs a national goal for broadband technology, for the spread of broadband technology. We ought to have a universal, affordable access for broadband technology by the year 2007, and then we ought to make sure as soon as possible thereafter, consumers have got plenty of choices when it comes to purchasing the broadband carrier. See, the more choices there are, the more the price will go down. And the more the price goes down, the more users there will be. And the more users there will be, the more likely it is America will stay on the competitive edge of world trade.
The more users there are, the more likely it is people will be able to have interesting new ways to receive doctors' advices in the home. The more affordable broadband technology is, the more innovative we can be with education. It's important that we stay on the cutting edge of technological change, and one way to do so is to have a bold plan for broadband.
Let me say one thing about broadband -- we don't need to tax access to broadband. The Congress must not tax access to broadband technology if we want to spread it around."
Likewise, John Kerry, the democratic candidate, has been talking of high-speed Internet access, universally available to every family, in rural and urban America, just as electricity was made available to them generations ago:
"Empower Americans by Making Internet Access Universally Available. As more commerce and service occurs over the Internet, John Kerry believes that we need to make Internet access available to all families. Several generations ago the Rural Electric Administration brought isolated areas out of the darkness. Similarly a visionary Federal government will build a bridge across the digital divide and bring the promise of broadband technology to rural and urban America. Kerry supports providing a tax credit to telecommunications companies that deploy broadband in rural and underserved parts of America."
It is a of relief to see that high office of the president in the U.S. is finally seeing the importance of this critical infrastructural need for the global post-industrial development, which has been neglected since the time of Al Gore, who emphasized the importance of information highways in his campaign of 2000.
The reality is that fiber is already laid down between the cities and under the oceans, but it is not extended to the homes in the last mile, because the phone companies want to milk the last dollars out of their long distance voice business, and the universal access to high-speed Internet will put an end to that income, by making the voice connection essentially free.
Technologies such as *virtual presence* of Internet2 are already available, and if the high-speed broadband was universally available, the same way a post office mailbox is available at every rural and urban location, Internet2 technologies would be widely applied, because for all these technologies to be used, both sides of the connection should have the same high bandwidth of at least 100meg.
A government initiative that makes the universal access a reality is long overdue, and let's hope the U.S. presidential candidates make their plans more concrete soon, and start implementing it, as soon as they are in office. Silicon Valley can play a key role in making this dream to become a reality.
Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher