April 19, 2006
Mr. John Podesta
Center for American Progress
1333 H Street, NW, 10th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20005
Dear John Podesta,
It is with great excitement that Consumers Union, the non-profit, independent publisher of Consumer Reports®, writes this letter in support of the launch of Broadband Progress. A key focus of our telecom advocacy effort centers on promoting community internet projects as a means to provide consumers with affordable access to broadband in order to close the Digital Divide. By providing consumers and community organizations with an important set of tools to aid in defining the problem, sharing information and developing creative solutions to technology access concerns, Broadband Progress has the potential to play a pivotal role in the battle for universal broadband access.
As consumer telecommunications advocates, we regularly face the challenge of making issues relating to use of the Internet clear and understandable to our members and activists. Even when performing outreach to populations that are particularly affected by broadband policies – low-income, rural, senior and minority consumers – we find that tying content issues or access issues to more esoteric, structural issues, like spectrum policy, is no easy task. However, we firmly believe that without widespread consumer education and awareness of these issues and how they impact our lives on a day-to-day basis, the task of public interest advocates is made that much more difficult.
In addition, in December 2004, Consumers Union launched our consumer outreach and education site for telecommunications, www.HearUsNow.org. HearUsNow presents telecommunications and media policy information in an understandable format, allows consumers to share their stories regarding communications concerns, and to take action on various issues by sending emails to Congress and the FCC. We believe that Broadband Progress would be complementary to HearUsNow and would urge our visitors to take advantage of the information and consumer tools provided on the site.
We urge you to take steps leading to the launch of Broadband Progress as soon as possible, and look forward to partnering with you in strengthening this important tool and making it available to as many consumers as possible.
Vice President of Federal and International Affairs