Broadband Crisis Cripples Small Businesses
Consumer Groups Urge Congress to Improve Internet Access for all Americans
WASHINGTON - September 26– In testimony before the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship today, Free Press Policy Director Ben Scott will call on lawmakers to confront the lack of broadband competition that is hurting America’s small businesses in the global marketplace.
“The market failures of small business broadband come at a great economic expense,” Scott said. “American small business owners are at a huge competitive disadvantage to their counterparts in Europe and Asia, where broadband is widely available at much higher speeds and lower prices. Our entrepreneurs and innovators deserve better.”
Scott will testify at a hearing titled “Improving Internet Access to Help Small Business Compete in a Global Economy” on behalf of Free Press, Consumers Union and Consumer Federation of America. Federal Communications Commissioners Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps will also testify.
A live webcast of the hearing will be available at http://sbc.senate.gov/
Yesterday, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, authored a guest post on the SavetheInternet.com blog inviting regular citizens to recommend ways to bring universal, affordable, high-speed Internet access to small businesses and all Americans.
“Without national broadband access, we’re throwing sand in the gears of our economy, placing a technological ceiling of job growth, innovation and economic production,” Senator Kerry wrote. “We need to make universal deployment a national priority.”
Every international ranking shows that the United States is falling behind the rest of the world in broadband availability, price and speed. Small businesses in other countries are able to choose among dozens of competitive business-class broadband options, while American small businesses have only their local monopoly telephone company.
The lack of competition in the broadband market is so severe that most small businesses are unable to purchase the kind of broadband service most suited to advance their competitive interests. Many small businesses — especially in rural areas — do not have any high-speed Internet connectivity.
“How can rural towns and cities hope to spark economic growth and attract new businesses when many lack a basic broadband connection?” Scott asks. “Until we have real broadband competition for everyone, our rural communities will continue to languish on the wrong side of the digital divide — at an enormous economic and social cost.”
Free Press, Consumers Union and Consumer Federation of America will call on Congress to adopt a national broadband platform with policy initiatives that safeguard Network Neutrality; facilitate the collection of broadband data; open unused TV “white spaces” for wireless broadband use; ensure spectrum auctions produce real competitors not vertical integration; protect the rights of local governments to offer broadband services; transition Universal Service Fund programs to broadband; and spark broadband marketplace competition.
“Faith in the great American spirit of entrepreneurship is not a substitute for policy changes that would restore America’s technological edge in the global economy,” said Scott.