Former FCC Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate has proffered the idea that minimal broadband service is better than nothing and that the government, rather than going out on its own and building a network, should offer broadband vouchers that can be used to buy at least baseline broadband connectivity.
"After all," Tate theorized, "we already subsidize some low-income phone service this way through a program called Lifeline." Her suggestion would be similar: Subs would get vouchers or "broadband stamps" to turn in for very basic Web surfing and e-mailing capabilities. Those who want more can "contribute their own hard-earned cash to get a gourmet selection," she said.
The plan, of course, has more holes than the Alamo's walls, primarily the cannonball-sized one that if these poor rural users can't get broadband now at any cost, things are unlikely to get any better with broadband stamps? The idea might work in urban areas where broadband's too expensive but the national broadband plan is trying to target the rural poor and unconnected masses.
More musket ball-sized holes include Tate's belief that these vouchers might encourage providers to "find a business model that would also incentive the deployment" of more broadband services. Perhaps she hasn't seen the recent reports indicating that broadband service providers have little regard, verging on disdain, for basic subscribers. The bundle and all the revenue it brings in are the 21st Century targets.
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