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Thursday, January 18, 2007

'Speed Matters' Campaign to Press for High Speed Internet for All

The Communications Workers of America released a new policy paper as part of its "Speed Matters" campaign, a multi-million-dollar, strategic effort to help bring affordable, high speed Internet to all Americans.

The newest policy paper is available at in the "to learn more" box. Also on that site is a speed test, to measure individual Internet speed, and other breaking news and information.

The report spotlights the critical need for a comprehensive national high speed broadband policy if the United States is to bring the benefits of the telecommunications revolution to all.

The United States, the country that invented the Internet, has fallen to 16th in the world in terms of access to high speed broadband, the union says.

CWA represents 700,000 workers in communications and information technology, media and cable, public service, health care and higher education, airlines and manufacturing.

"This is not surprising since we spend relatively less as a nation on telecommunications investment and we spend relatively more as consumers for slower speeds," the report says.

"High speed networks are the infrastructure of the 21st century and the U.S. needs a national policy to get all of us there," says CWA President Larry Cohen. "This is a critical public good and where markets are slow to deliver, we need to find ways to create financial incentives to speed up private sector build out. In addition, we need to ensure that all regions of the country have access to service -- including rural areas and urban communities. That's why we need a national public policy that will make sure that all Americans can benefit from high speed Internet and other 21st century advances."

Cohen notes that the recent announcement of the sale of Verizon landlines in northern New England was a step backward in terms of providing universal high speed Internet access for all. Consumers in Vermont, Maineand New Hampshire have, in effect, been abandoned in terms of gaining access to true high speed Internet and future technological advances,because only companies with a substantial rate of capitalization have theability to provide such services, he says.

CWA is advocating some bold, specific steps that the United Statesshould take to ensure that all residents have access to high speed Internet networks. These include:

* An increase in the Federal Communication Commission's definition of high speed, which now is just 200 kilobits per second, a fraction of what the rest of the world uses.

* Accurate mapping and data collection of exactly where the US is in terms of broadband availability and speed, so we know who does and who does not have access to high speed Internet today.

* Support for public/private partnerships to promote build out and to generate demand.

* Extending universal service requirements that now apply only to voice telephony to Internet services.

* Preserving an open Internet, so that all consumers can go where they want, when they want.

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