Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Chairman Velazquez & 20 Bipartisan Members of Congress: Fix Broadband Stimulus for Small Business

Chairman of House Small Business Committee and Hispanic Caucus Will Be Listened To by Administration 11/17/09 Boston
- Congresswoman Nydia M. Velazquez (D-NY-12), Chairwoman of the U.S. House Committee on Small Business, together with 20 bipartisan members of her Committee, today issued a letter to the 2 agency heads managing the Obama Administration's broadband stimulus program which calls for
specific reforms to the program on behalf of small business interests.

Echoing many of the bipartisan sentiments expressed during the Committee's oversight hearing of October 28, the letter introduced member's complaints stating, "despite the interest expressed in these programs, many concerns have been raised by small business with respect to their implementation."

We see today's letter as being significant on several fronts, not the least of which is the role of Chairwoman Velazquez (above, addressing the 2008 Democratic National Convention) herself as a wheel horse in the Democratic coalition responsible for both the election of President Obama, and control of both Houses on the Hill.

Priority on Unserved Tracts
Most significant in policy terms is the fact that the letter first and foremost calls for priority program spending in areas of the nation unserved by existing broadband networks. "To ensure that new infrastructure projects reach communities with the greatest need, prio
ritization should be given to areas without access to broadband," stated the missive. "It is the Committee's recommendation that funds should be targeted to areas which are first "unserved" and only then to 'udnerserved' areas, if funding remains."

Cable Operators as Small Business
A piece by John Eggerton in today's online Multichannel News credits the cable industry with such a strong enunciation, by a Committee Chair and Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, of the "underserved first" policy priority lobbied for by the cable sector.

We agree, with the not insignificant caveat (as also highlighted by Eggerton) that the real gain achieved by cable operators in expressing their broadband stimulus needs on Capitol Hill, especially to the Small Business Committee of the House, results from the work of small and medium sized operators and their trade association. While the ability of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) to deliver a message on the Hill can never be discounted, today's letter and the policy it represents is a reflection of the membership requirements and legislative focus of the American Cable Association (ACA).
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