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Schwarzenegger: Free market best solution for broadband

There are two general ways that governments can promote broadband: raise taxes and increase regulation of telecommunications companies, or the opposite. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger likes the second approach.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger showed up in Los Angeles on Tuesday to give a keynote speech at a state broadband conference, but didn't say much in his speech about broadband after all.

Although the event was held by the USC Annenberg School's Center for the Digital Future, Schwarzenegger spent most of his time talking about old-fashioned infrastructure, primarily roads, water, and levies in the Sacramento delta.

California Governor's office

"It is not a sexy subject," Schwarzenegger said. "It's very tough to go out and say, 'We'll build more roads. We have to go out and fix our levies.'" California needs to spend $500 billion on infrastructure in the next 20 years, he added.

During a question-and-answer period afterwards, the governor did allude to a recent study from the Sacramento Regional Research Institute that estimated California could gain 1.8 million jobs a year--assuming that the broadband use of the state's population grew by 3.8 percentage points a year.

Schwarzenegger struck a free market note on how best to accomplish that. "I've been pushing the (Public Utilities Commission) in becoming much more aggressive in pushing broadband," he said. "If we get more out of the way"--that is, if the government doesn't interfere--it will "move technololgy forward in a free way."

In politics, hope springs eternal. This is the same California PUC that the Pacific Research Institute, a free market think tank in San Francisco, said in 2004 "should be embarrassed" of its extensive new wireless regulations, and that the California Chamber of Commerce said was sticking "its fingers into the highly competitive wireless industry for no good reason other than it can."