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Internet Service Speed Is Fast-Track Issue For New Administration

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U.S. President-elect Barack Obama wants to provide everyone in the United States with access to high-speed Internet service and create thousands of jobs in the process, but experts are debating what qualifies as high-speed service. The Independent Telephone and Telecommunications Alliance says stimulus funding should be given to build networks in rural areas with speeds of 1.5 megabits per second (Mbps), which analysts say is not fast enough for high-quality video downloads or transferring other large files. The Communications Workers of America has called for incentives in rural and underserved areas to provide speeds of 3 Mbps, while members of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association have asked for incentives to help them extend their fastest service, which offers speeds of up to 50 Mbps.

Groups such as the Public Knowledge and Free Press say that networks should not use stimulus funding for existing expansion plans, but instead the funding should be used to achieve Obama's goal of the "finest and most modern communications infrastructure in the world." Public interest groups say achieving that goal will require a stimulus plan with clear oversight that will encourage firms to build new networks that provide speeds as fast as those offered in better-connected nations such as Japan and South Korea. Public interest groups and some high-tech companies caution that simply calling for incremental upgrades that do not require significant rebuilds will not result in the creation of new jobs that Obama wants.

From The Washington Post

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