Trylon Communications  - July 2004

Broadband Planks in the Campaign Platforms

The proliferation of broadband across markets and demographics will fundamentally change how we communicate with each other. We have been waiting to see how each of the presidential candidates sees the growth of broadband unfolding. Here is what we have learned from recent candidate announcements.

Both President Bush and Senator Kerry decry the recent figures that show that the U.S. has dropped from 4th in the world in broadband penetration to 10th. Bush blames this on over-regulation, while Kerry believes that lack of incentives is the main cause.

Bush has proposed that the federal government open up federal land for access by broadband companies. He backs the FCC’s efforts to deregulate fiber-optic connections, is behind the development of broadband across electric lines, and supports a permanent ban on Internet access taxes. His main thrust is to provide incentives for private companies to provide the growth in broadband.

While he endorsed new technologies such as powerline broadband, it has been observed by Adam Thierer of the Cato Institute that proposals for cutting regulations on current providers of DSL, cable and satellite services were absent.

According to the New York Times, "Mr. Bush offered few new programs, endorsing a continuation of a ban on taxing Internet access and promising to auction parts of the government-controlled radio spectrum to allow greater use of wireless broadband connections."

Senator Kerry, on the other hand, is looking to take a more active role in speeding the access of broadband to urban and rural areas. He is proposing a 10% tax credit to providers which increase access to those areas. He is also proposing a 20% credit to companies that develop next-generation broadband technology – with a minimum speed of 20 times current broadband speed.

Kerry wants to ensure broadband access to all first responders (police, firefighters, etc.) by the end of 2006. One of the ways he wants to do this is by freeing up additional spectrum for broadband by shifting from analog broadcasting to digital. The new spectrums can be used to provide access to first providers, with the remainder auctioned off and the funds used to promote additional infrastructure investment.

Kerry also encourages private sector investment in broadband access – with more competition among providers. He believes that this will create a dynamic marketplace that will encourage growth and reduce prices.

To visit the candidates' Web sites for more information, here are the links: