Free Press Releases Broadband Stimulus Proposals

New Report Details Broadband Policies to Turn Around the Economy
Contact Info: 
Jen Howard, Free Press, (202) 265-1490 x22 or (703) 517-6273

WASHINGTON -- Today, Free Press released Down Payment on Our Digital Future: Stimulus Policies for the 21st-Century Economy, a comprehensive set of proposals that would deploy a forward-looking national broadband infrastructure.

With strict benchmarks and clear accountability, these policies would target stimulus funds toward building next-generation broadband networks, connecting unserved and underserved areas, supporting affordable Internet connections, providing computers and technology training for low-income users, and promoting Internet access for children at school and at home.

"Investing in the information superhighway is a concrete way for President-elect Barack Obama and Congress to kick start the economy and secure long-term prosperity," said S. Derek Turner, research director of Free Press and author of the report. "But since future generations will be footing the bill for this stimulus package, Congress must ensure that these funds deliver the next-generation networks this country needs. There should be no blank checks."

The policies detailed in the new report would allocate $44 billion over the next three years, immediately producing tens of thousands of new technology-sector jobs and generating hundreds of billions of dollars in economic activity. The proposed tax incentives and grant programs are designed to trigger new investments, not to fund projects previously planned by incumbent telecommunications companies.

The United States currently ranks 22nd in the world in broadband adoption, with more than 40 percent of all U.S. homes not connected to broadband. Lack of meaningful competition has taken away the incentive for network operators to make substantial upgrades or build out to all communities, leaving Americans with connections that are too slow and expensive.

Free Press' broadband proposals address the problems of broadband availability and adoption, while also providing substantial immediate and future economic benefits. These proposals also stipulate that all networks constructed with or supported by broadband stimulus funding must be open, freely competitive platforms for ideas and commerce.

The proposals contained in this report would create programs to:

  • Produce next-generation networks capable of delivering speeds of 100 Megabits per second through tax incentives that stimulate private investment.
  • Spur competition by awarding higher tax incentives to companies that deploy world-class, fiber-optic networks that are open to multiple competitors.
  • Fund the construction of next-generation broadband and wireless networks in rural and unserved areas.
  • Help low-income Americans get connected by using stimulus funds to extend universal service programs to support broadband.
  • Modernize the e-Rate program to connect children at home by supplying them with computers and lowering the monthly cost of Internet access.
  • Bring health care and public services into the digital age and provide technology training to senior citizens and families with children.

"Broadband is the great equalizer," Turner said. "It has more potential than any other technology in history to raise the standard of living for all Americans. Building this world-class broadband network is a down payment on that digital future."

Read executive summary:

Read full report:

People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good