Lieberman Offers First Broadband Bill

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As promised last week, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) introduced legislation
Wednesday that would give the Bush administration six months to draft a
broadband strategy.

Lieberman's bill, called the National Broadband Strategy Act of 2002, is the
first in a series he plans to offer to meet the goal of providing universal
high-speed Internet access at top speeds of 100 megabits per second.

Among other things, the bill would require the Bush White House to propose
legislation that sets an overall strategy to promote competition among broadband
providers, to create incentives to stimulate consumer demand and to identify
roadblocks to deployment, such as taxation and local rights-of-way
management.

Lieberman is considering a run for the White House in 2004, but his staff
insisted that his view that the Bush White House has let broadband strategy
drift is not at attempt to create a campaign issue.

In the legislation's preamble, Lieberman said adoption of a national strategy
is critical if the economy is to regain the investment steam and productivity
gains of the late 1990s.

In terms of nuance for the cable industry, Lieberman's nine-page bill refers
to broadband as a 'telecommunications service.' Under federal rules, cable
broadband service is an 'information service' not subject to common-carrier
obligations shouldered by telecommunications-service
providers.

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