Obama team lowers expectations on broadband stimulus

Speaking at an industry conference today, analyst Blair Levin, who is on leave from Stifel Nicolaus while aiding the Obama transition team on telecom policy “appeared to try to lower expectations about the magnitude and sweep of looming broadband stimulus efforts, which he said were just a ’subset’ of the incoming administration’s overall national broadband strategy.” That’s according to a research note from his coworkers at Stifel Nicolaus, who added, “Mr. Levin’s comments suggest to us that the measures may not involve the several tens of billions of dollars floated in some reports.”

Obama’s national broadband goals are being improperly confused with — and won’t be limited to — imminent plans for economic stimulus, Levin said, adding, “Don’t confuse the piece with the puzzle.”

The main focus of the economic stimulus package is to quickly create jobs, Levin said, and since time is a factor, policy-makers will focus on using “existing structures … roughly speaking.” That may run counter to groups that are urging a focus on fiber deployment as part of a broadband component of any near-term economic stimulus plans. But Levin wasn’t specific.

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