‘Last mile’ broadband access key to small-business growth

As we move deeper into 2010, we contemplate 2009’s historic economic challenges.

The global financial system approached collapse. Entire industries suffered unprecedented downturns. Unemployment skyrocketed to over 10 percent while some estimates of underemployment neared 17 percent.

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Yet all is not bleak. Just as the nation has pulled itself from previous cycles of “economic bust” through new technologies, today’s leading technology, the Internet, stands poised to deliver the next generation of American success stories. There remains just one missing link: lack of affordable “last mile” broadband access for many of America’s small businesses, one of our greatest sources of job creation.

As CEO of a business that creates small-business broadband solutions, I remain amazed when my jobs-creating small-business customers remain desperately in need of technologies now considered basic tools for their larger competitors.

Fortunately, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski has recognized broadband’s importance to small business, and we’ve seen good progress as the FCC formulates rules for broadband deployment in its National Broadband Plan.

One easy way to achieve wider deployment and adoption of affordable broadband access is by making greater use of existing copper infrastructure.

Advances in copper technology deliver speeds many times faster and at lower cost than ever envisioned during the early 2000s when fiber was considered the only mechanism for broadband access. Companies like mine deploy Ethernet over Copper, delivering speeds up to 45 Mbps where we have access to this vital — and existing — infrastructure. We will get even faster, but that innovation is threatened by existing rules allowing large telecom providers to remove copper wiring — a communications resource originally subsidized by ratepayers — without regard to potential public benefits.

That’s important because copper infrastructure is already available nationwide, while fiber only reaches approximately 20 percent of American businesses.

Regulatory efficiency, social equality, and economic strategy all argue that the National Broadband Plan recognize the importance of bringing broadband to small businesses immediately in order to spur job creation. This can happen by recognizing the value of copper and promoting access to that infrastructure.

Without the personal computer there would have been no Microsoft, and without the Internet, Google would have remained something out of science fiction. Widespread access to high-speed broadband is critical for creating technological opportunity. Adopting a pro-small-business National Broadband Plan with immediate access to affordable high-speed “last mile” options will remove yet another obstacle to job growth.

From Carl J. Grivner, chief executive officer, XO Communications, Herndon, Va.

Court ruling may boost tea partiers

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The Supreme Court decision on corporate campaign contributions may greatly benefit the tea party grassroots movement. If the Democrats or Republicans ever took this movement seriously, then they would see many of the attendees at tea party rallies are teachers, firefighters and police officers who belong to unions. Most tea partiers once were liberal Republicans or conservative Democrats who now seek a third party because they are grossly burdened by the extreme policies of the White House and Congress’s self-serving laws.

Teachers’ unions are the largest unions in the nation and their leadership has been struck dumb by ultra-liberal President Barack Obama’s continuing President Bush’s dismantling of education. As a member of teachers’ unions and the tea party, I put out a call to any astute politician who recognizes that tapping into this immense resource called Americans would usurp the insidious influence of big corporations, which use their billions to manipulate our government leaders to do their bidding for the sole benefit of the small minority of wealthy Americans.

From Helen Tackett, Fullerton, Calif.