Posted by: Ann Treacy | February 13, 2008

The Candidates on Broadband

flagToday’s post is looong – but I tried to look into the broadband views and records of the final four candidates…

I was disheartened last week to read a report saying the not even a tech-leaning crowd seemed to think that broadband was a notable issue. But I am picked up a bit this week after hearing that FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein and FTC Commissioner Jon Leibowitz both emphatically told a crowd of Lawyers this week that the US is falling behind and if “this country wants to retain its technological pre-eminence in the world, it needs to get behind a national policy that emphasizes ubiquitous, low-cost broadband connectivity.”

As the scope of candidates narrows I’ve decided it’s time again to look at the candidates left standing and their views on broadband. (Not to make anyone jealous but living in Ireland I have not seen one campaign ad!)

Months ago I blogged about the WCA and their web site that tracks the candidates on broadband.

Their report on the Bush Administration reads a little like the latest NTIA report on the situation. Hmmm. Kinda taints my view of the whole site. Actually it just helped me realize that this site hasn’t been updated in quite a while. So it is good for viewing a candidate’s track record on broadband – but not for the updates.

Here’s what they report for the 4 big guns left standing:

Senator Clinton: A key leader in advocating for rural broadband, Senator Clinton announced new additions to her initiatives, including the Rural RISE Act, on March 29 of this year. … The Senator introduced comprehensive legislation in 2006 that would establish an office of Rural Broadband Initiatives at the Department of Agriculture. … Senator Clinton was a cosponsor of the 2006 Internet Freedom Preservation Act, and continues to support Net-Neutrality legislation. …With her role as co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional E-911 Caucus, Senator Clinton is also highly focused on improving public safety communications issues, including those related to interoperability challenges.

Senator Obama: In a speech announcing his 2008 bid for the Democratic nomination, Senator Obama directly underlined his technological advancement goals in respect to rural broadband. … The Senator has also been vocal in expressing his support for legislation backing Net Neutrality. [Recently he co-sponsored the recently introduced Media Ownership Act, which passed the Senate commerce committee in December.]

Former Governor Huckabee: “Former Governor Huckabee was a pioneer of E-Government. [Apparently he helped Arkansas upgrade their online processes.] … Huckabee has spoken on behalf of rural broadband via his E-Government solutions.

Senator McCain: Senator McCain introduced the Spectrum Availability for Emergency-Response and Law-Enforcement to Improve Vital Emergency Services Act in March of this year. … The Senator also introduced rural broadband legislation in 2002 … McCain presided over 2006’s Net Neutrality hearings, making opening remarks and advocating on the importance of the issue.

Google is another entity that has been watching the candidates closely. I think that all of the candidates have spoken at the Google Complex. Video of the talks is available online. I just read a great article on Google’s role in the election focusing on their power as a search engine. If you search for Hillary, what do you get as opposed to searching for McCain? Do the results impact the voters? As a former librarian I find this very fascinating – but it might have all of the general appeal as a Dewey Decimal joke.

C|Net has surveyed candidates in November on their take on the tech issues and last month they published a technology voter guide.

Here are their super quick blurbs on the three of the final four (Huckabee never responded):

Technology Voters’ Guide: John McCain
He wants strong laws protecting children from sexual predators online. He also wants to keep Net connections tax-free.

Technology Voters’ Guide: Hillary Clinton
She supports tax incentives to extend broadband, wants open, unimpaired Internet access for all, and has serious concerns about Real ID.

Technology Voters’ Guide: Barack Obama
Democrat is a staunch believer in Net neutrality and says he’ll push for infrastructure improvements so the United States can lead in broadband penetration.

Just to be fair I wanted to include another Republican here – so I picked Senator Paul, who has used the Internet as a campaigning tool better than anyone:

Technology Voters’ Guide: Ron Paul
Republican thinks that a free market is the key to broadband expansion and that the feds should stay out of mergers and social-networking sites.

Also C|Net have a nice chart that helps you elect the candidate that best suits your image of the most tech-friendly candidate.

Finally we can get the word straight from the horse’s mouth; here are links into their candidates’ pages on technology – well the best I could find anyways.

Senator Clinton

Hillary will strengthen tax incentives for extending broadband to underserved areas. She will support state and local broadband initiatives, from new wireless technologies to high-speed fiber optics. And she will change the FCC rules so we that we finally have an accurate, detailed picture of broadband deployment and penetration rates. At present, the FCC data is unreliable because it is based on loose estimates and outdated standards. Hillary will also create a new public private partnership, modeled on the successful ConnectKentucky program which has dramatically improved broadband access. The initiative has stimulated significant private investment and has increased the state’s broadband coverage rate to over 90%.

Former Governor Huckabee

So we must also look at longer-term ways to grow local economies and our national economy by: first, easing congestion by emphasizing road expansion and mass-transit investment; second, funding strategic capital improvement projects to make more localities attractive to new businesses and workers; and third, rebuilding the infrastructure of our “tools for trade” such as improvements to and expansions of our seaports and airports.

– OK I’m reading a lot between the lines here – but he doesn’t specifically mention broadband (I did a site search) he does mention that he’s opposed to taxing Internet access.

Senator McCain

When Ronald Reagan took office, a Blackberry was something you used to make jam; today it is a vital link in a wireless communication network that spans the globe. The broadband revolution is transforming every facet of communications from the Internet to entertainment to telephone service to the delivery of health care services to supply chain management. Yet over the last decade, America has dropped from 2nd in the world to 19th in broadband development and connectivity. In the real world of global competition if we don’t reverse those trends, we will risk our prosperity and leave many Americans in rural areas far behind the rest of us.

“The dogmas of the quiet past,” Abraham Lincoln said, “are inadequate to the stormy present. As our case is new, we must think anew. We must disenthrall ourselves.” Across the generations, those words still ring true.

To keep our nation prosperous, strong and growing we have to rethink, reform and reinvent: the way we educate our children; train our workers; deliver health care services; support retirees; fuel our transportation network; stimulate research and development; and harness new technologies. Let that challenge be the new Republican calling. Let’s invite a genuine contest of ideas within our party and with the other party. For conservatism, as Ronald Reagan told us “is not a narrow ideology.”

[This is taken from a speech, but again it’s what I could find. Three cheers though for McCain for having a search button on his site!]

Senator Obama

 … Obama believes we can get true broadband to every community in America through a combination of reform of the Universal Service Fund, better use of the nation’s wireless spectrum, promotion of next-generation facilities, technologies and applications, and new tax and loan incentives. Specifically, Obama proposes the following policies to restore America’s world leadership in this arena:

  • Redefine “broadband:” The Federal Communications Commission today defines “broadband” as an astonishingly low 200 kbps. This distorts federal policy and hamstrings efforts to broaden broadband access. Obama will define “broadband” for purposes of national policy at speeds demanded by 21st century business and communications. …

Senator Obama had more I could have added – but I cut to the boardband stuff in a small attempt to curb the size of this post.


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