WASHINGTON, July 9 – Three technology and telecommunications companies pressed their case Wednesday on Capitol Hill for better and more accessible broadband in order to promote energy conservation and a “green economy.”
Officials from Verizon Communications, Cisco Systems, and GridPoint appeared at the briefing sponsored by the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank, on “Climate Connections: Information Technology and a Green Economy.”
Kathryn Brown, senior vice president for public policy at Verizon, said that widespread use of broadband high-speed internet service will conserve energy across the board. She cited the way Americans have already moved from buying compact discs (CDs) to downloading music over the Internet.
Not only is less gas used to travel to stores, she said, over time less plastic will be manufactured. Eventually, the production of CDs will stop.
A similar process is currently happening where employees are now using their smartphones and BlackBerry devices to access documents without the need to print them out, potentially reducing the production of paper, said Brown.
"We’re in a broadband world,” she said. “[We] can transact business in a different way."
The ability to access good-quality broadband in the home also makes the possibility of teleworking more likely, said Brown. Verizon is the leading company deploying high-speed fiber-optic cables for home broadband use in the United States.
Brown, a former chief of staff to William Kennard, the last Democratic chairman of the Federal Communications Commission during the Clinton administration, has addressed the pro-environmental aspects of broadband deployment in other speeches. She spoke at the Freedom-to-Connect conference in April 2008.
Laura Ipsen, senior vice president of global policy and government affairs for Cisco, touted the company’s TelePresence video-conferencing system, which has received widespread praise for its life-like realism.
The system enables businesses to cancel flights – saving time, money and gas emissions – said Ispen. For the cost of one flight, companies can engage in 98 TelePresense sessions, she said.
Ispen also said that that Cisco will reduce its own energy consumption by 25% by 2012.
The third panelist was Steven Hauser from GridPoint, a company that provides information about the electric grid that helps align the interests of electric utilities, consumers, and the environment. GridPoint helps facilitate an intelligent electrical network that controls load, stores energy and produces power.
Hauser discussed the concept of a “smart house,” or a dwelling that functions with the aid of broadband technology. A person would have the ability to control the function of everything electronic in their house, such as the washing machine and air conditioning, through any broadband-enabled mobile device.
What’s best of all is that “smart houses” will be funded by “the taxpayer or the rate payer – it will come out of your right or left pocket,” said Hauser.
According to the Center for American Progress web site, the purpose of the briefing was “to educate policymakers and staff about the significant contributions [information and communications technologies] can make in reducing global warming emissions, and will hopefully serve as the start of a sustained policy dialogue on the topic.”
At the event, CAP Action Fund Senior Fellow Bracken Hendrix said that the threat of global warming heightened the urgency to provide broadband access virtually everywhere.
Rep. Hilda Solis, D-Calif., agreed. She compared the green revolution to the industrial revolution, and said that she was “concerned about who has [broadband] access and also those who don't.”
Verizon’s Brown also said that rural America had to have broadband. Government subsidies should provide broadband in the places where providers don’t currently make it available, she said.
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