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FUDBusters: Broadband Access Policies and Politics

FUDBust: At this point, Internet-service regulation is about as important to Bush and Kerry as the color of Ralph Nader's hair. Nobody, not even the biggest IT geek, votes for a presidential candidate based on his telecom policy. Still, depending on who's elected, Internet-service development will be affected.

Bush, who has taken four years to come up with a broadband policy, is counting on deregulation to spur the technology's development. The president seems to think that by freeing local, long distance and cable providers to compete and by making federal land available for network expansion, his administration will encourage the spread of broadband coverage nationwide. No doubt there'll be spirited competition to deliver service to Podunk, Alaska.

Kerry's strategy isn't much more attractive. Kerry adviser and former FCC chairman Reed Hundt says the candidate will probably want to make broadband Internet access part of the universal service fund, which forces service providers (and their customers) to subsidize the cost of extending service to rural areas. Kerry's plan might be more practical, but it could take longer and cost users more.