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Open Access Rules Touted as Prescription For Low U.S. Broadband Rank

in Broadband's Impact/Net Neutrality by

WASHINGTON, November 19, 2009 - The United States has lost a lot of ground concerning internet expansion, adoption and affordability – ranking below the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Korea – according to experts at a telecom conference on Thursday.

Additionally, said Debra Lathen, board member of British Telecom, the U.S. is plagued by battles over efforts to intrude upon network neutrality. That is not the case in the United Kingdom, she said. Such a problem does not exist in England.

“There are over 700 internet service providers, nationally and regionally,” Lathen said. “Net neutrality is not a problem because of the equal access to broadband.”

Having a system of mandatory “open access” to telecommunications infrastructure in the European Union and Britain has proven successful not only at offering affordable broadband, but also promoting internet growth, said Earl Comstock, a consultant and former CEO of Comptel. The association represents Bell company rivals.

Moving toward a system of “open access,” he said, was necessary to the growth and the success of the internet.” He said that open access had been beneficial in other countries.

Comstock said that he considered internet service a natural monopoly. Tacking net neutrality rules on top of a monopoly is possible, “but it won’t increase innovation and competition.”

Marvin Ammori, assistant professor at the University of Nebraska, sharpened that statement by asserting that “trade regulations requires us to impose net neutrality on open access.”

Panelists also debated the issue of cybersecurity. Major Vicki Belleau, of the U.S. Air Force, said that definition of key internet terms was essential to combating viruses, malware and other computer attacks. Lauri Allman, former Undersecretary of Defense of Estonia, said that security threats need to be dealt with expeditiously.

The panelists also said that nations need to agree on what it is considered a cyber-threat or a cyber-attack.

An intern at the National Journalism Center and a student at American University’s Washington Semester Program, Christina is a Reporter-Researcher for She is a student at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota.

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