Washington, D.C. – The Communications Workers of America, representing 700,000 workers in communications, media and other sectors, is calling on House and Senate leaders to support legislation to improve data collection about current broadband deployment, make resources available to states to move forward on determining where gaps in broadband coverage exist, and create public-private partnerships to expand broadband deployment and adoption.
In this effort, CWA has been joined by a broad-based alliance of health care, education, farm, and public interest groups, telecommunications and cable companies, and trade associations in urging Congress to act now and move toward a needed national policy of broadband deployment.
The leading bills now before Congress – S. 1492, the Broadband Data Improvement Act and H.R. 3919, the Broadband Census of America Act – provide a critical first step to developing a national broadband policy.
CWA President Larry Cohen stressed that "if our nation is going to realize the economic gains of the Internet Age and ensure that a 21st century Internet is available for all, we need better data to help us get there. These bills now before Congress will greatly improve the quality of that information and will move us another step closer to bringing high speed Internet access to every American."
The diverse group of 30 organizations and companies, in a joint letter to key congressional and committee leaders, outlined the critical need to move the nation to adoption of a national broadband policy that will stimulate economic growth, create jobs, reduce healthcare costs and have other far-reaching economic benefits. (Text of letter here).
"We believe Congress should adopt legislation this year that provides federal government support for state initiatives using public-private partnerships to identify gaps in broadband coverage and to develop both the supply of and demand for broadband in those areas," the group wrote.
Recent studies estimate that the total annual economic impact of accelerating broadband access across the United States would exceed $134 billion, the group pointed out, with additional and far-reaching economic benefits from an increase in telemedicine, distance learning and other applications, including the potential for:
- $92 billion through an additional 2.4 million jobs per year created or retained;
- $662 million saved per year in reduced healthcare costs;
- $6.4 billion per year in mileage savings from unnecessary driving;
- $18 million in carbon credits associated with 3.2 billion fewer pounds of CO2 emissions per year in the United States; and
- $35.2 billion in value from 3.8 billion more hours saved per year from accessing broadband at home.
"We cannot afford to let another year go by without adopting policies that will stimulate the economy in such ways, while expanding use of the networks that already are deployed and providing broadband in previously underserved areas," the letter said, urging bipartisan efforts to enact federal legislation this year.
A list of signing organizations follows:
AT&T, Alliance for Public Technology, American Association of People with Disabilities, American Library Association, Charter Communications, The Children's Partnership, Comcast, Communications Workers of America, Connected Nation, Cox Communications, EDUCAUSE, Embarq, Independent Telephone & Telecommunications Alliance, Information Technology Industry Council, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Internet Innovation Alliance, NIC, Inc., National Cable and Telecommunications Association, National Farmers Union, The National Grange, National Rural Health Association, Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies, Qwest, Time Warner Cable, U.S. Cattlemen's Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, United States Telecom Association, Verizon, Western Telecommunications Association, Windstream