Wireless Internet Is A Political Issue… Again

All over the world ubiquitous broadband Internet access is bringing countries closer together. It surprises many when they find out that in China the average citizen has access to much faster download speeds and at a much lower cost than the average American. Of course the Chinese have to deal with the fact that they are viewing a censored Internet, but even that is getting better everyday. In Europe a person would be hard pressed to find a place they COULDN’T connect wirelessly to the Internet, while in the US users must go to a specific coffee shop or airport to do the same thing. It appears that the United States is behind the curve in offering affordable Internet access to its citizens, and short of socialized services, so what can be done? U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) introduced the Wireless Innovation Act of 2007 early this year to try and close the gap between the United States and other countries in the area of broadband Wireless Internet penetration within the consumer market. This very closely resembles the Wireless Innovation Act of 2006 sponsored by John Kerry (WINN) which failed to pass the previous year but has been reintroduced as well. Specifically the bill is intended to “make use of spectrum in the gaps or ‘white spaces’ between broadcast channels two and 51 when the transition from analog to digital television is complete in two years. With the capacity to transmit data over longer distances with less power, this prime spectrum, now reserved primarily for television broadcasting, could support a wide range of innovative wireless devices and services that aren’t useable in other frequencies”, says Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) who is also co-sponsoring the bill. WINN ’07 could be the ticket the country needs to increase the consumer market penetration of broadband wireless Internet, which would of course bring about new products and services both obvious and unknown. This type of legislature is designed to take fast, decisive action and correct an obvious problem. This of course means it will be delayed. So where are our ground breaking bills now?: H.R.1597 – To require the FCC to issue a final order regarding television white spaces. Sponsor: Rep Inslee, Jay [WA-1] (introduced 3/20/2007) Latest Major Action: 3/21/2007 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet. S.234 – A bill to require the FCC to issue a final order regarding television white spaces. Sponsor: Sen Kerry, John F. [MA] (introduced 1/9/2007) Latest Major Action: 1/9/2007 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. It is clear the decisive bill isn’t exactly tearing its way through the hallowed halls of the House and Senate. Of course bills take time to pass, and there is a lot of pork to be added to this one yet so we still have time. So why exactly is this bill important to the United States if its just going to let its citizens surf the Internet more easily? John Kerry said, “The bill would serve communities large and small, enabling the delivery of broadband that will connect business owners with their customers, students with dynamic new learning resources and first responders with victims in crisis.” With that in mind, the bill seems a bit more relevant to the county as something more than an entertainment device.




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