The National Consumers League hosted consumer and worker advocates, government regulators, think tanks, and industry representatives, to a Washington forum on January 29 on the current state of broadband in the U.S. Attendees discussed issues of regulation, affordability hurdles, and American’s lag — behind a growing number of nations — in broadband penetration. Speakers and attendees included Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va), a member of the House Commerce and Judiciary committees; FTC Commissioner Mozelle Thompson; Jessica Rosenworcel, legal advisor to FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps; and Robert Crandall, senior fellow in the Economic Studies Program of the Brookings Institution.
Rep. Boucher opened the half-day event with a discussion of the opportunities broadband has brought to his ninth congressional district of Virginia, which includes very rural areas within the commonwealth’s most southwestern regions. In counties as small as 5,000, community-based broadband programs, or “electronic villages” have been created, serving the purposes of telemedicine, higher education, and economic development. Boucher argued, based on his own district’s experiences, that the Internet is an invaluable tool that is well worth local government filling the gap with broadband connection. “Let’s clear the way for investment; let’s clear the way for community networks,” he said.
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