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Bush demands Net access tax ban

'Power lines were for electricity'

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President Bush today called for Congress to maintain a ban blocking taxes on Internet access and for the US to increase the spread of broadband connections, during a speech in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

"Now, the use of broadband has tripled since 2000 from 7 million subscriber lines to 24 million," Bush said. "That's good. But that's way short of the goal for 2007. And so - by the way, we rank 10th amongst the industrialized world in broadband technology and its availability. That's not good enough for America. Tenth is 10 spots too low as far as I'm concerned."

Don't worry, George. We'll hit zero before you know it.

"Broadband technology must be affordable. In order to make sure it gets spread to all corners of the country, it must be affordable. We must not tax broadband access. If you want broadband access throughout the society, Congress must ban taxes on access."

The President's comments come as the US Senate begins its debate on whether or not the government should renew a temporary ban on Internet access taxes or create a permanent ban on the taxes. Bush, and others, argue that banning the taxes would make broadband access more affordable to consumers and keep service providers interested in providing high-speed access. Critics, however, say that taxes could help out states in desperate need of cash.

To help spur broadband adoption, Bush called on the government to ease restrictions banning the use networking equipment on federal lands.

"One sure way to hold things up is that the federal lands say, 'you can't build on us,'" Bush said. "So how is some guy in remote Wyoming going to get any broadband technology?"

Bush then got a bit more technical, calling for more focus on broadband over power line (BPL) technology.

"Power lines were for electricity; power lines can be used for broadband technology," Bush said. "So the technical standards need to be changed to encourage that."

Him eloquent. Me say, "Yes!"

In an online chat with Richard Russell, associate director of the office of science and technology, one concerned citizen charged that Bush was only talking up broadband access because it's an election year.

"I haven't heard the President talk about broadband for 3 and 1/2 years," wrote Wendy from Annehurst. "It's election year and this is the first I've heard him discuss it. Seems to me this is a last-minute move to show the technology industry that the Bush Administration is interested in technology."

Russell responded:

"Thanks Wendy for your comments....

In fact the President has talked about broadband on a number of occasions. For example, in 2002, he spoke forcefully about the benefits of broadband and the need for the government to ensure it was creating an environment that would facilitate deployment.

Last year, he directed the Department of Commerce to create a spectrum task force to make proposals for innovative ways to improve spectrum management and to make more spectrum commercially available.

Following on recommendations from the President Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, today he signed an executive Memorandum directing agencies to streamline their rights of way processes to make it easier for broadband deployment.

The administration has been working hard to develop policies that enable new broadband technologies. The President has pledged to make broadband universally accessible by 2007 and we will meet this goal." ®

Related links

Bush speech text
White House chat

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