WASHINGTON – Today Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) pushed for a federal commitment to make high speed Internet access more widely available to small businesses and all Americans. Citing the need for America to compete in a global economy, Kerry called for the Bush Administration to make universal broadband access a reality by changing regulations and encouraging competition between service providers.

“The Bush Administration has once again failed to live up to its promises,” said Kerry, Chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. “Three years after talking about the need for universal high speed Internet access, the majority of Americans still have either no Internet access at all or are stuck with dial-up. To compete and win in the new global economy, we need a national broadband strategy that encourages competition and expands access. Previous generations put a toaster in every home and a car in every driveway as signs of economic progress—it’s time we do the same with high speed Internet access.”

Commissioners from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) outlined the need for competition amongst service providers in order to make broadband more widely available to American small businesses.

“We must work to promote meaningful competition as it is the most effective driver of innovation, as well as lower prices,” said Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein. “Only rational competition policies can ensure that the U.S. broadband market does not devolve into a stagnant duopoly, which is a serious concern given that cable and DSL providers now control approximately 96 percent of the residential broadband market.”

Kerry also pushed for the Federal Communications Commission and the Small Business Administration to collect more accurate information to measure the availability of broadband services for small businesses. Although the FCC has reported that America’s broadband deployment is being deployed on a reasonable and timely basis to all Americans, recent reports from leading technology think tanks have shown that America is falling behind other countries, and currently ranks 15th in the world in terms of high speed Internet access. The latest available data is from 2004.

As Commissioner Michael Copps testified, “The FCC’s current efforts at data gathering are woefully out-of-date and out-of-whack. The Commission is still calling 200 kilobits per second ‘broadband’ and assuming that if one person in a ZIP code has broadband access, everyone else does as well. This is 2007, not 1997. We need a more credible definition of speed and more granular measures of deployment, as well as to start gathering data on price and the experience of other nations.”

Senator Kerry is the primary author of S.234, the Wireless Innovation Act of 2007 (WINN Act). The legislation aims to facilitate the development of wireless broadband Internet access by allocating certain areas within the broadcast spectrum known as white spaces that are otherwise unassigned or unused. Senator John Kerry has also joined Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) in an effort to ensure that communities across the country have equal access to developing broadband internet technologies. The Community Broadband Act, S. 1853, will ensure that municipal governments have the right to provide high-speed Internet service to their citizens.

In June, Senator Kerry wrote to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin to share his concerns about the valuable 700 MHz spectrum. This spectrum, currently used for television broadcast signals, can transmit signals through trees, buildings and other structures. It is being auctioned off because television is going digital in 2009. Kerry asked the FCC to establish auction rules that maximize the likelihood of innovation and ease competitive entry.