By William G. Korver, Reporter, BroadbandCensus.com
July 21 - The United States government needs to expand its broadband mapping efforts and collect information about internet speed tiers, Federal Communications Chairman Kevin Martin said Monday.
Martin made the remarks at a field hearing on the future of broadband conducted by the FCC at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. A webcast of the hearing was available online.
The FCC is currently considering whether it should get into the business of mapping out availability of broadband.
Following remarks by Rep. Michael Doyle, D-Penn., that governmental policies may either "choke" or "spur" innovation, Martin said an atmosphere willing to permit regulations was the "key to the digital future."
Martin added that internet video may prove a viable alternative to the internet and television offerings of cable operators. Repeating his long-standing criticisms of the cable industry, Martin said that cable bills have doubled in recent years.
Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein echoed Doyle's and Martin's calls for regulations and seconded Martin's belief that America must find a solutions that will help increase broadband deployment and speed while also lowering the cost of broadband.
Adelstein reminded the audience that half of American do not subscribe to broadband. Also, around 35 percent of dial-up users have not switched to broadband – and many cite the high cost of broadband.
Adelstein recommended digital literacy efforts and government subsidies to remedy the problem.
Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate emphasized her efforts to crack down on online child pornography. Internet service providers should be free to take unilateral action against such sites, she said. Tate also cited the need to respect intellectual property rights online.
Commissioner Michael Copps said that all citizens "need and are entitled to have [broadband] services" because it is a civil right of every American citizen.
Commissioner Robert McDowell, appearing to reject some of the more regulatory policies of his colleagues, said that the Internet has flourished because engineers have, and should continue, to be the solvers of engineering problems, not governmental officials.
The comment drew applause from the crowd.
A panel on "The Future of Digital Media" and a second on "The Broadband of Tomorrow" followed the Commissioners' opening statements. A public comment period concluded the hearing.
BroadbandCensus.com filed comments in the Federal Communications Commission’s inquiry about how to best map out information about local broadband.
-Drew Clark, Editor, BroadbandCensus.com