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PSN's Guide to Key Broadband Bills in 2009

Key Broadband Bills for 2009

PSN is currently working with state legislators to both provide support to sponsors and build national messaging campaigns in order to move two pieces of legislation that focus on strategic integration of broadband into states long term plans. Moving these policies across multiple states will create opportunities for national messaging and mobilize the power of state action to move progressive broadband initiatives, and lead the way for bold federal reform. A key goal is to use these initiatives as a means to generate support for increased investment in broadband and motivation to leverage new broadband technologies to improve our economy, implement environmentally friendly and energy efficient policies and increase health care, education and social opportunities.

More on these and other policies can be found in Broadband and Technology Investments: Policy Options for 2009, PSN’s report detailing a range of bold policies states are introducing to ensure universal access to and adoption of affordable broadband, initiatives both comprehensive and incremental in scope.

Broadband Strategy Councils: Currently, approximately 20 million Americans today do not have access to a single high-speed Internet provider, and even more are currently priced out of the market. In order to ensure that states remain competitive in the 21st century, state legislators should consider creating an entity that is focused on increasing access and adoption of affordable broadband. Additionally, the entity should be tasked with considering how to leverage broadband technology across various sectors, such as government, healthcare, energy management and education to create efficiencies, save money, increase transparency and provide better services and increased opportunities. 

Any legislation establishing an advisory council should: require the council consist of diverse members representing various stakeholders; develop a statewide strategic approach to broadband deployment and adoption; establish clear goals and accountability metrics; provide a forum for public/private collaboration; be set-up to meet federal requirements for matching grant and other funding opportunities; protect municipalities’ rights; and, help spur demand aggregation.

Digital Inclusion: In order to ensure that as more government programs, jobs, education and health care institutions take advantage of technological advancements, every individual can be a full participant in our 21st century digital society, states should commit to investing in digital inclusion initiatives. 

Initiatives to increase digital inclusion and the everyday use of technology must meet three major requirements. First, states need to educate the public on how digital skills and better access to information can empower them; and publicize the fact that improved technology access is tied to economic development, better health care, and improved environmentally friendly policies. Second, individuals need access to technology and digital skills training which will teach them how to use and reap the benefits of 21st century infrastructure. Third, any digital inclusion initiative must be tied to the overall goals of the state to ensure long term sustainability.