(Recasts first paragraph; adds analyst comment)
By Kim Dixon
WASHINGTON Jan 14 A broad U.S. economic
stimulus package cannot be the major vehicle for achieving the
high-speed Internet goals of the incoming administration, a
top technology adviser to President-elect Barack Obama said on
Blair Levin, a top aide to Obama, said the broadband piece
of the stimulus package should "only do things that are timely,
targeted and temporary and can lead to lots of jobs."
Speaking to a meeting of the Congressional Internet Caucus,
Levin said Obama will still pursue goals of expanding broadband
access for the unserved and underserved and getting public
safety officials a national network. "You kind of have to use
existing structures," he said.
Technology companies and advocates are vying to influence a
a stimulus bill worth nearly $800 billion that is being drafted
by Democratic lawmakers to stop the downward spiral of the
American economy and rising unemployment.
Consumer groups want the stimulus package to promote broad
policy goals, including Internet competition for the dominant
telephone companies and cable companies such as AT&T (T.N),
Verizon Communications (VZ.N) and Comcast (CMCSA.O).
The groups blame the lack of competition for the United
States trailing its industrialized counterparts on Internet
speed and penetration.
Analysts at investor advisory firm Stifel Nicolaus said
Levin may be trying to lower expectations about the extent of
broadband measures likely to be included in the bill.
"We suspect broadband stimulus is not likely to be as
ambitious as various groups have sought in proposals for
massive new broadband spending, tax incentives, and other
measures, though it could represent a down-payment," the group
wrote in an investor note.
The public interest group Free Press, for example, has
called for $44 billion to be invested in expanding high-speed
Levin, who worked at the U.S. Federal Communications
Commission under former President Bill Clinton, is on leave
from his position at Stifel to advise the Obama campaign on
His name has been floated for a potential position within
the Obama administration.
(Reporting by Kim Dixon; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Tim