TIA puts broadband policy issue at top of telecom recovery list

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA; www.tiaonline.org) says the Bush Administration needs to recognize the need for a national broadband policy in the United States, and help do something about it once and for all.

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA; www.tiaonline.org) says the Bush Administration needs to recognize the need for a national broadband policy in the United States, and help do something about it once and for all.

"We are challenging them to meet with us and develop some kind of national strategy," says Grant Seiffert, vice president of global policy and external affairs for the TIA. "It would be a good signal to Wall Street to get confidence back into telecommunications for investing."

The call for a national policy is tops on the list of a five-point plan for sustained telecom recovery recently released by the TIA, based in Arlington, VA. The association, which maintains that the telecom sector is still in unstable condition, also called for:

  • The implementation of a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) framwork for broadband deregulation;
  • Legislative tax incentives for broadband deployment;
  • Spectrum allocation for new services;
  • R&D funding for the communications sector.

The TIA argues that if these five points are enacted upon, they will stimulate job creation and investment in the sector.

But central to the strategy is the creation of a broadband policy, which the TIA argues would be instrumental in helping the U.S. achieve widespread broadband deployment within a reasonable period of time. The TIA hopes to hear some positive news from the President on this topic next month.

"We are asking the President to announce the initiation of a national broadband strategy in his State of the Union address in January," states TIA President Matthew Flanigan.

The TIA.wants the government to develop a national policy and then implement a strategy that they are hopeful will ensure that all Americans have immediate access to high-speed Internet access technologies, and to next-generation broadband services expected in 2005. The TIA argues that competitive market forces, not regulation, should be the principal means of achieving this goal.

The TIA argues that with a national broadband plan, the potential for job growth, such as network installation, is great. Meanwhile, investments in telecom networks would have a domino effect on the economy. The association argues, for instance, that for every job created in the telecom sector due to investment in new networks, four jobs are created in related sectors.

"A broadband strategy that focuses on broadband deployment can be...a job-multiplier," Sieffert continues.

Sieffert admits that the TIA would have liked to have seen the policy adopted long before now, but he doesn't believe the Bush Administration is ignoring telecom issues altogether. In fact, the TIA has seen glimmers of hope among high-ranking government officials. Sieffert says, for example, that the administration is working with the National Telecommunications & Information Administration on the issue of spectrum allocation.

But Sieffert says it is now time for the Bush Administration to realize the potential of the national policy. "This should be a priority for the economy," says Sieffert.

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