FTTH Council Wants Piece of Economic Stimulus

President Bush’s multi-billion dollar economic stimulus plan should include money to help expand broadband services across the country, according to The Fiber-to-the-Home Council said today.

The council, which convened its second quarterly meeting today, said it endorses the Broadband Internet Access Act of 2001, a bipartisan bill that would provide tax credits to companies investing in broadband equipment to serve rural and low-income areas.

“Greater America is starved for broadband services, and our economy is suffering as a result,” said FTTH Council President Doug Wrede in a statement. “There is no better time than now to allocate resources to broadband.”

“Providing Internet access in outlying areas is like handing someone the proverbial key to the city — we open the door to a wealth of business and educational development opportunities,” he also said.

The act’s proposed tax incentives will help telecommunication concerns and cable operators, as well as utilities, city municipalities and real-estate developers that are getting into the broadband-network game, the FTTH Council also said.

The Broadband Internet Access Act of 2001 was introduced in both the both the Senate, as S. 88, and the House of Representatives, as H.R. 267, at the start of this year.

Both bills provide taxpayers in rural or underserved areas a 10 percent tax credit on qualified expenditures with respect to buying equipment that works with “current generation” broadband services. That tax credit goes up to 20 percent for equipment the powers “next-generation” broadband services. The next-gen equipment credit also applies to residential subscribers.

The bill was introduced by John Rockefeller IV (D-W.V.) in the Senate, and in the house by Rep. Phil English (R-Penn). The legislation was read twice in the Senate and referred to that body’s Finance committee. In the House, the act was referred to the Ways and Means committee.

Neither the House nor the Senate have acted on the legislation since its introduction in late January 2001.

Bob Woods is the managing editor of OpticallyNetworked.com.

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