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Broadband Stimulus

Diverging Views on How to Spur Broadband Investment

Both President-Elect Barack Obama and Congressional leaders have discussed including government support to promote high-speed broadband access as part of the upcoming economic stimulus package. This has prompted a flood of proposals and ideas from advocates of all sides of the broadband debate. Economic stimulus should be timely, temporary and targeted. But who should this stimulus target and how can we spur investments that will create both short-term economic growth and long-term economic prosperity in the 21st century?

Although there is consensus on the critical need for broadband stimulus, there are clear divides on how the money should be spent. Do we utilize tax subsidies or targeted grants? Who receives the subsidies? Should we provide subsidies to existing cable and telecom providers, or focus on supporting new competitors? Should we strictly target subsidies to spur build-out in rural or under-served areas? Are there speed requirements? Do we include local governments, community groups, and NGOs?

Panelists debated these key questions and their answers and proposed solutions are highlighted in the following video clips:

What is the single most important strategy that should be included in the stimulus package?

Discussion of the effectiveness of tax incentives to spur investment

Tax incentives vs. direct grants

What is the most important condition to place upon a federal subsidy?

New America also released a paper by Benjamin Lennett and Sascha Meinrath advocating for long-term, sustained government investment in broadband.  Building a 21st Century Broadband Superhighway seeks to leverage federal spending on traditional infrastructure (road, bridges and possibly railways) to create a fully interconnected, public access fiber infrastructure to bring high-speed connectivity to nearly every community.  Proposals of other panelists are listed below:

Robert Atkinson - The Digital Road to Recovery: A Stimulus Plan to Create Jobs, Boost Productivity and Revitalize America  

Wally Bowen – Local Network Stimulus:  A 'Green' Broadband Policy for Underserved America 

Derek Turner - Down Payment on Our Digital Future: Stimulus Policies for the 21st-Century Economy

CWA – Proposals to Stimulate Broadband Investment

Mark Cooper – Building a New Communication System for America at the Grassroots Level



New America Foundation
1630 Connecticut Ave NW, 7th Floor
Washington, DC, 20009
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Featured Speakers
Robert Atkinson
President and Founder
Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

Wally Bowen
Founder and Executive Director
Mountain Area Information Network

Debbie Goldman
Research Economist
Communication Workers of America

S. Derek Turner
Research Director
Free Press

Mark Cooper
Research Director
Consumer Federation of America

Benjamin Lennett
Senior Program Associate, Wireless Future Program
New America Foundation

Michael Calabrese
Director, Wireless Future Program
New America Foundation

Event Time and Location

Friday, January 16, 2009 - 12:15pm - 1:45pm