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US Senate Commerce Committee Hearing “Why Broadband Matters”

Today, the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing designed to take a step back, look at the larger picture, and examine the importance of broadband in the daily lives of Americans. Chairman Daniel Inouye (HI–D) captured it well in his opening remarks – “This is why our discussion today is not about pipes and providers. It is about people; our citizens stand to gain the most from universal broadband adoption.”

Representatives of the AARP, the American Library Association, the American Telemedicine Association and the head of an Alaskan health corporation (which relies on distance medicine to effectively treat 28,000 patients in a geographic area the size of Oregon) all hammered home the point that broadband services are critical to healthcare, employment, education and quality of life for everyone in the United States. They told the stories of Americans who directly benefit from broadband.

Rey Ramsey, head of the One Economy Corporation, stressed the importance of broadband policies that focus on aggregating demand for and adoption of broadband services, reiterating a point made often by Connected Nation - local applications that have value and use in day-to-day life drive demand for broadband services. One Economy “is a global nonprofit that leverages the power of technology and information to connect low-income people to the economic mainstream.”

Larry Cohen, the President of the Communications Workers of America, pointed to Connected Nation’s initiative, Connect Ohio, as an example of successful public-private partnerships that bring together the public and private sectors to overcome broadband availability gaps, increase broadband adoption (particularly in low-income and rural populations) and deliver measurable improvements to the American quality of life. Cohen also recommended, as did other witnesses, that the Senate pass S. 1492, the Broadband Data Improvement Act, which would speed the creation of comprehensive broadband initiatives in the states.

The need for a comprehensive broadband initiative across the country is important to many Americans. Connected Nation joined a coalition of thirty-one associations, companies, and non-profits to send a letter to both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives on July 11, 2008 calling for the completion of broadband mapping and demand aggregation legislation before the close of the 110th Congress (S. 1492, the Broadband Data Improvement Act; H.R. 3919, the Broadband Census of America Act; or a combination of these two bills).

With time running out before Congress adjourns in advance of the November elections, the time for action is now – a point well made during today’s hearing.

(More information on today’s hearing can be found here: )