Affordable broadband for everyone

The new head of the FCC wants affordable broadband access for every man, woman, and child in America. Julius Genachowski told The Wall Street Journalin an interview that the Web has been perhaps "the most successful driver of economic growth" in the country.

Missing from plans for the new program is any realistic way to pay for it. Providing broadband access, even to those who cannot afford it, can be readily accomplished in most cities. The infrastructure is in place. Hooking up new subscribers within these geographic areas is not terribly expensive. The government only has to decide who will bear the modest costs -- the taxpayers or the telecom and cable companies who own the systems. The idea of private firms paying the freight would be novel, but it could be part of deals for them to keep exclusive franchises in big cities.