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FCC's Adelstein criticizes failed U.S. broadband policy

FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein last week criticized what he called a "failed" White House policy on the U.S. deployment of broadband technology.

Adelstein charged that the U.S. continues to slip in worldwide rankings measuring per capita broadband usage, while other developed nations are deploying successful broadband strategies.

"I really believe we lack a coordinated vision for success," Adelstein said at a Freedom to Connect technology conference near Washington, D.C. "This has got to be a greater national priority than it is now."

In 2004, the Bush administration set a goal of affordable, universal broadband access by 2007. However, critics told the "National Journal" that goal would not be met by the end of this year in many rural areas, even though administration officials insist the plan is on track.

As a result of the White House policy, Adelstein said many citizens in Europe and Asia have faster Internet access at lower prices than Americans. He called for a national broadband strategy that includes benchmarks, deployment timetables and measurable thresholds to gauge its success.

Adelstein also urged the FCC to adopt network neutrality rules designed to prevent broadband providers from potentially blocking or degrading competing content on their high-speed pipes.

Both Adelstein and his FCC colleague, Michael Copps, have complained for months that government broadband data is flawed because it assumes that if one customer in a zip code subscribes to broadband, then the whole zip code is being served. That, they said, is not always the case.