What should be America's national broadband strategy?

See http://openleft.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=318

by: Dick Durbin
Sun Jul 22, 2007 at 13:06:58 PM EDT

Today I'm writing to invite you to participate in an experiment -- an interactive approach to drafting legislation on one of the most significant public policy questions today:

Starting this Tuesday, July 24 at 7pm EST on OpenLeft.com, I will be engaging in a series of four nightly broadband policy discussions with the online community. During those four nights, I am looking for the best and brightest ideas on what Congress should do to promote and foster broadband.

I will begin each night's discussion with a conversation about some of the core principles I think are important, and then I'll ask for you to contribute your ideas that will help me craft legislation.

Dick Durbin ::
There are two reasons I'm asking for your help and participation. The first is because I think we need more public participation and transparency in the way Congress crafts significant legislation. This is an approach to legislation that has never been tried before. If it's successful -- as I believe it will be -- it may become the way lawmakers approach drafting bills on other issues like education, health care, and foreign policy.

The second reason I'm doing this is because broadband policy is one of the most important public policy issues today. Frankly, America does not have a national broadband strategy, and we are falling behind. That means our families don't have access to the best medical technologies, our students don't have access to the best educational opportunities, and our entrepreneurs are limited in the markets they can access.

As we work together to draft a bill to solve these problems, the three principles I want to begin with are:

  • Broadband access must be universal and affordable;
  • We need to preserve an online environment for innovation; and
  • We need to ensure that broadband technology enables more voices to be heard.

As I said at the outset -- this is not the traditional way legislation is written in Washington. Some people think that by giving people other than policy experts and special interest groups a seat at the table, this process will never work. I believe differently, and I have a feeling that this week, we'll prove them wrong.

I look forward to talking with you about America's national broadband strategy, starting this Tuesday night.

-- Dick Durbin

Day 1, Tuesday July 24, will feature a live-blog with the Senator
where we'll be looking to lay out the big picture: how should we
think about broadband policy? How should we be looking at it
differently? What should the key principles for a national broadband
strategy be? It's a big-picture night and an opportunity for folks to
say what they're concerned about, as well as how they think the
Internet (and broadband overall) should operate in the future.

Day 2, Wednesday July 25, will focus on net neutrality and other 'how
the Web works' issues, but indeed, net neutrality will take center
stage. I'm hoping we find new frames, new insights, and new
directions for this debate.

Day 3, Thursday, July 26, is going to be about municipal
infrastructure with an emphasis on the use of the public airwaves to
provide broadband. We'll talk iPhone politics, spectrum auctions, and
discuss models for municipal broadband and their implications.

Day 4, Friday, July 27, is going to be more about practicalities in
regards to the provision of infrastructure itself: public/private
partnerships, projects like UTOPIA and Fiber for the Future, Connect
Kentucky, and USF/USDA reform.