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Broad Coalition Backs Universal Broadband

Publication Date: 
June 25, 2008
San Jose Mercury News
Frank Davies

Lawrence Lessig is mentioned in this San Jose Mercury News article as a member of new coalition trying to bridge the "digital divide." Universal Internet access, they say, is "as basic as hot water":

WASHINGTON - A broad coalition of Internet business leaders, online gurus, community organizers and advocates across the political spectrum launched a campaign Tuesday with the lofty goal of universal high-speed Internet service.

Better broadband access and quality can be a boring and technical issue, fraught with bureaucratic complications, admitted the organizers for But they also see it as crucial to the future of the U.S. economy, education and even the health of democracy.

At a news conference in New York, the group warned that the United States is falling behind European and Asian nations with Internet access that is more limited, more expensive and slower. U.S. users pay an average of $53 a month for high-speed service, compared with $32 in Germany and $33 in Britain, according to one international survey.

The campaign includes Vint Cerf, Internet "evangelist" for Google; Stanford University Professor Lawrence Lessig; Zipcar founder Robin Chase; venture capital leader Brad Burnham; and Van Jones, community organizer and president of the green-economy group Green for All, based in Oakland.


A study by the California State Broadband Task Force in December found that about 1.4 million state residents, mainly in rural areas, did not have broadband service, and only about half of Californians have broadband at home. The group called for state bonds and tax breaks for providers to extend service.

A "digital divide" among Internet users could also leave lower-income and minorities behind, the coalition warned. According to the Census Bureau, 35 percent of households with annual incomes below $50,000 have broadband, while 76 percent of those with higher incomes are connected.