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Mehlman: No new ideas

Responding to Sen. Joe Lieberman's (D-Conn.) call for a coordinated and more
rapid high-speed broadband rollout, a Bush administration official said the
proposal held nothing new, adding that the administration was already
encouraging broadband on numerous fronts, but it was up to the 'best and
brightest' minds at the Federal Communications Commission to puzzle out the key
issue of digital-subscriber-line open access, put in doubt by a recent court

Bruce Mehlman, assistant secretary of commerce for technology policy, said
Wednesday: 'A preliminary review suggests no new facts, ideas or proposals. But
the newfound interest of such a high-profile senator should clearly advance this
important issue.'

As to what the administration is already doing, Mehlman said, 'As the senator
dives more deeply into the issue, he is going to recognize significant
administration efforts on all facets of a multifaceted challenge.'

As examples he cited, among others, the three-year acceleration on
depreciation schedules for capital equipment; a proposal to make the
research-and-development tax credit permanent; extending the Internet tax
moratorium, both in the United States and at the World Trade Organization; and
support for $80 million in loan guarantees for rural broadband rollout.

He also had praise for the FCC: 'Don't forget, we made Michael Powell
chairman of the FCC and put Kevin Martin and Kathleen Abernathy on the
commission because they are the best and brightest telecom minds and they need,
at the FCC, to resolve the most challenging piece of the puzzle, as the appeals
court just reiterated.'

Mehlman was referring to the D.C. Circuit's decision last week vacating and
remanding rules requiring telephone companies to lease their high-speed Internet
DSL lines to competitors. The FCC is already revisiting those rules as part of
its triennial regulatory review.