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6/8/2009
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Think Tank Pushes Broadband Enterprise Zones

Institute For Policy Innovation says private-sector forces are best to ensure nationwide coverage.

A free-market oriented think tank says the Federal Communications Commission should create broadband enterprise zones as part of a national communications plan.

The Institute For Policy Innovation filed its comments with the FCC on Monday, saying such zones could identify areas that lack broadband access and ultimately help ensure as many Americans as possible gain broadband access.

IPI's policy experts recommend that the federal government leverage the private sector's rollout of broadband technology with tax-credit and voucher incentives for deployment in the designated zones.

"Broadband enterprise zones are an economically efficient means of incentivizing broadband rollout to areas where market forces have proven to be insufficient up to this time," according to IPI's letter to the FCC.

"Part of the great success story of the Internet within the U.S. is that it has been created by private risk capital and not by any demand on taxpayer funds," IPI president Tom Giovanetti said in a statement released Monday. "New federal policies should do nothing to supplant, to interrupt, or to devalue these enormous past, current, and future investments."

Government broadband policy should enhance rather than supplant the existing, largely private nature of the network infrastructure and avoid returning to failed policies, the group said. They discouraged unbundling, saying it would be "a step backwards for the U.S. broadband network" and "devalue the existing private infrastructure."

They called for technology-neutral policy to give consumers choice and to allow communications convergence to continue to spur competition and innovation.

"There will be a virtual race between cable, traditional telecom, and wireless providers to unserved areas, and underserved areas will see additional new competitors," the group said in the written comments. "This is the current and near-term reality, and it's a good reality."

If existing trends continued, without government intervention, network providers are likely to continue to deploy in new areas on a demand-driven approach, it said.

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