Broadening Broadband Access

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President Bush says the nation is lagging on providing high-speed Internet access to everyone. He believes removing one roadblock, taxing broadband use, could improve not only access, but also competition.

"Broadband technology must be affordable. In order to make sure it gets spread to all corners of the country, it must be affordable," the president said in Minneapolis Monday. "We must not tax broadband access. If you want broadband access throughout the society, Congress must ban taxes on access."

One local provider hopes the president's initiative will help the people it's trying to help, people who live in rural and low-income areas.

"It allows a tax break for the businesses who are providing service to the area," says Ian Hines, Senior Network Engineer for Sequelle Communications. "It's more attractive for other businesses who move into the area."

Wood County-based Sequelle is one of a number of companies, which include the area's two cable companies that provide high-speed access. In an era of out-sourcing, the idea is also is to continue to encourage a service which is uniquely American.

"The U.S. accounts for 29 percent of the exportation to businesses," Hines explains. "It allows corporate America and the economy to be very productive."

Keith Leonard, who handles broadband services for community antenna service, agrees.

"(Eliminating taxes on high-speed access) helps keep prices lower," Leonard says, "and helps increase access to the Internet as well as competition for services. Cost is important for people who want to do more with the Internet."

The U.S. Senate has approved a permanent ban on taxing broadband Internet service, and the House is on the verge of doing so.