U.S. President George W. Bush called for universal and affordable access to broadband Internet service by 2007, saying that the technology would speed the flow of information and spark innovation.
"It's important that we stay on the cutting edge of technological change, and one way to do so is to have a bold plan for broadband," Bush said at the Expo New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Friday according to official White House transcripts.
Bush made a call to keep broadband prices low and added that "Congress must not tax access to broadband technology if we want to spread it around."
The comments were made during a speech mostly concentrated on home ownership. However, Bush linked the government's broadband push with "keeping the entrepreneurial spirit strong" and helping people realize dreams like starting a business or owning a home.
"You see, new ideas and new businesses and new ways to educate people in Farmington, New Mexico, are going to occur when we're able to get information flowing across cables and telephone lines in a fast way," Bush said.
In addition to making broadband a centerpiece of his current technology agenda, Bush has supported an extension of the Internet tax ban and has appointed leaders to promote broadband's development and use.
However, the rate of broadband growth in the U.S. slowed last year, according to figures released by the Federal Communications Commission in December. The number of high-speed Internet connections increased 23 percent in the last half of 2002, but grew by only 18 percent in the first half of 2003, the FCC reported. For the year ended June 30, 2003, high-speed lines increased 45 percent to 23.5 million, the FCC said.
What's more, technology researcher IDC forecasts that broadband subscription growth in the U.S. will continue to slow through 2007. In a report released last August, IDC predicted that broadband subscriptions would increase 35.1 percent this year, and slow to a growth rate of 16.3 percent in 2007.
The researcher also forecast a worldwide slowdown in high-speed Internet subscription growth, from 36.4 percent this year to 16.3 percent in 2007.
However, Bush believes that lower prices will be crucial in kick-starting broadband adoption. "The more the price goes down, the more users there will be," he said.