In my election issues website, www.lawmall.com/electionissues, I place this universal broadband issue at the very top of my list of election issues, with the following heading: "Providing FREE Broadband Services to All Residents of a Municipality". As NYS Attorney General, I would assist towns and villages in their efforts to comply with the regulatory hurdles under State law relating to telephone carriers and cable companies to ensure that universal broadband service can be brought to any town wanting to implement such service for its residents.
The costs of providing broadband to everyone in a town are substantially less per subscriber than when subscriptions are purchased individually. Various towns and villages in the United States are attempting to have broadband made available to everyone, with varying degrees of success. There seem to be at least 4 ways to consider: (i) through the local cable company; (ii) through the telephone company; (iii) separate wiring of the entire town with optical fiber; and (iv) through creation of "hot spots" that can be used by anyone in town, but which may not have universal coverage, I would suspect. Some useful articles about wiring an entire town for broadband services are:
The wireless technology known as Wi-Fi has already widened Internet access through “hot spots” at businesses such as Starbucks and at airports. Now it’s enabling cities to create public broadband networks that turn entire neighborhoods into wireless access zones.
Level 7 Solutions, LLC and BCCISP have entered into an agreement to bring wireless broadband into the Magnolia, Texas area.
Broadband Internet access will be achieved through the use of a wireless mesh network which will blanket the entire town center with wireless technology. The partnership will then expand out to surrounding existing neighborhoods and into many of the new neighborhoods planned for the area.
Internet speeds of up to 4 mb will be possible from anywhere in the network of wireless access points. With a laptop computer, a wireless card, and an account, one could have uninterrupted Internet access throughout the entire town.
Rollout of the network is planned for Summer 2005.
There are three important things to remember about community broadband systems:
In the not-so-distant-future, broadband will be an indispensable part of economic, personal, and public life. Those countries that achieve universal broadband are going to hold significant advantages over those who don't. And so far, the United States is poised to be a follower -- not a leader -- in the broadband economy. * * *
American residents and businesses now pay two to three times as much for slower and poorer quality service than countries like South Korea or Japan. Since 2001, according to the International Telecommunications Union, the United States has fallen from fourth to 16th in the world in broadband penetration. Thomas Bleha recently argued in Foreign Affairs that what passes for broadband in the United States is "the slowest, most expensive and least reliable in the developed world." While about 60 percent of U.S. households do not subscribe to broadband because it is either unavailable where they live or they cannot afford it, most Japanese citizens can access a high-speed connection that's more than 10 times faster than what's available here for just $22 a month [to the Japanese subscriber]. (Japan is now rolling out ultra-high speed access at more than 500 times what the Federal Communications Commission considers to be "broadband" in this country.)
In an article by Thomas Bleha and Philip J. Weiser, published in the September/October 2005 edition of Foreign Affairs magazine, entitled "Which Broadband Nation?", the authors explain how the blame is properly placed on Congress for the U.S. failing to keep up with Japan as to broadband services. Foreign Affairs Magazine's 9-10/2005 Broadband Article. Also, see 2/19/04 Broadband Issue Summary by the Congressional Budget Office.
In an 4/14/05 article entitled "United States Falling behind in Broadband" published in HowtoWeb.Com, the following comparisons were made:
73% of South Koreans have broadband access while 20% of U.S. citizens don't even have the option of obtaining broadband Internet access. And to make things worse our broadband access is much slower than some countries. How did the U.S. get behind so quickly in Internet connection speed. BusinessWeek reports: In 2000, the OECD said the U.S. ranked third in Net users connecting at high-speed among the top-30 world economies. The next year it fell to fourth. Now it's 11th, according to the OECD. And fast connections in the U.S. are slower than in many other countries. A top-of-the-line cable modem in the U.S. carries five megabits per second, while broadband connections in Asian countries like Japan and South Korea are often 20 times faster. South Korea is, in fact, the world leader in broadband. And unlike the U.S., it has multiple companies offering most of the country DSL lines that are also faster than what's available in the U.S., thanks in no small part to government encouragement and sponsorship.
H The full article is available at HowToWeb Article United States Falling behind in Broadband.
My role as NYS Attorney General will be to ensure that the regulation of telephone carriers and cable television does not prevent a town from acquiring broadband service for all of its residents at a reasonable price.