WASHINGTON D.C. - Broadband industry players should unite to address consumer concerns, urged Verizon's Tom Tauke in " Addressing the Emerging Issues of a Broadband World," his keynote speech on the final day of PFF's 2006 Aspen Summit. In his address, Tauke, Verizon's Executive Vice President of Public Affairs, identified four areas of policy concern the telecommunications industry must address in order to benefit consumers and spur market growth and innovation. PFF is releasing Tauke's written remarks from the Aspen Summit as a Progress on Point to complement the archived webcast of the speech.
In his speech, Tauke identified four policy issues that will play a central role in the future of the telecommunications industry: broadband access and penetration, privacy, intellectual property protection and taxation of communications services.
Tauke expressed the importance of broadband for both communications and economic growth. He urged industry to do more to promote broadband deployment to prevent government intervention before a clear market failure is established. "We should encourage local experimentation and partnerships, including public-private partnerships," stated Tauke. "And we should be mindful that if we don't focus on providing widespread access to broadband, the political pressure to address the issue will cause the government to act prematurely."
To address consumer privacy concerns in the digital marketplace, Tauke called for three areas of industry focus. "First, it's important that there be strong enforcement of privacy laws, and where necessary, improved criminal statutes," he explained. "Second, there must be ongoing consumer education in the area of privacy. And third, there should be more aggressive efforts by the industry to use technology to protect the more vulnerable who go online."
Tauke acknowledged the importance of content for broadband's growth and identified the importance of intellectual property protection, especially in light of today's converging communications technologies. "In the past year network operators and varied content creators have made strides in addressing data-rights management issues," he said. "But as screens and browsers proliferate around the world and become more mobile, the challenges that all segments of the broadband industry must address will only become more complex."
Tauke also criticized overly complex tax burdens placed on communications companies by local and state governments, warning that such unfair taxation compared to other industries could harm innovation and economic growth. "As an industry, we need to work with all levels of government to develop a tax structure for communications that is fair, non-regressive and easy to administer," he stated. "And we need to do it now, before governments get too used to this high-tax diet."
Other keynote speakers at the 2006 Aspen Summit included FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras, Qwest Chairman and CEO Richard Notebaert, renowned University of Chicago Law Professor Richard Epstein, and Sumner Redstone, Executive Chairman and Founder of Viacom Inc. and CBS Corporation. Webcasts of keynotes and discussion panels can be found on the PFF website.
The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.