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CU Tells Bush to 'Attack' Cable

President Bush should get tough on cable if he's serious about making high-speed Internet service more affordable, consumer activists declared shortly after he unveiled plans for universal broadband service Monday.

"Given that about 80 percent of Americans today do not have broadband service, we applaud President Bush for promoting affordable access, but that goal cannot be met unless the Bush Administration shifts course and starts attacking, rather than coddling, cable monopolies," said Gene Kimmelman, public policy director of Consumers Union. "The President's initiatives will do almost nothing to make broadband more affordable for consumers."

The primary hurdle to getting high-speed service into the homes of nearly all Americans  is the "hidden tax" cable operators impose on customers, said Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America.

Cable companies are charging too much for their Internet services, they say, especially when subscribers rely on their own access provider rather than their cable company's in-house provider. "We're getting overcharged by at least $15 a month by the cable guys," said CFA's Mark Cooper. He estimated that subscribers should pay no more than $30 monthly for Internet access when they bring their own ISP.

President Bush Monday unveiled a plan to provide affordable high-speed Internet access to all Americans by 2007.

About 13.7 million consumers currently receive their service from cable companies.