Cheering America's Belated Broadband Revolution

Sighs of relief as the FCC drafts a National Broadband Plan

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Politico recently procured a draft for the National Broadband Plan, expected to be handed over to Congress by Wednesday. A project of the Federal Communications Commission (whose head, Julius Genachowski, seems intent on shaking things up) the plan suggests four ways for the government to help expand the country's broadband network, including encouraging competition and updating policies and incentives. But why exactly do we need a National Broadband Plan in the first place? Here's the lowdown on this progressive-loved project:

  • The U.S. Is Way Behind, explains FCC head Genachowski in the Washington Post: "When it comes to broadband we have fallen behind as other nations have raced ahead." Blogger exmearden elaborates at The Daily Kos. "At the start of the Bush administration, the US ranked fourth in broadband access and adoption in households and businesses across the country. As of 2009, US broadband connectivity is now ranked somewhere around 13th to 15th." The blogger lists the "usual suspects" of "economic obstacles, policy conflicts, and existing infrastructure" as causes, as well as the question of whether the problem should be addressed partly through government funding. "For the record, the US is one of the few 'developed' countries in the world, and the only industrialized nation, that has yet to adopt a national broadband policy." Of particular note, apparently, in the new plan is extending broadband networks to American Indian reservations, where Internet connections are often patchy and quite expensive.
  • And Here's One Reason Why, explains Truthdig's John Cheney-Lippold: "existing domestic broadband networks have been slow to adapt to heavy bandwidth usage for content like streaming high-definition video."
  • Broadband Is Crucial Going Forward, argues Rey Ramsey, CEO of TechNet, at The Huffington Post, calling "wider adoption ... one of the best fiscal stimulus policies we can make ... One study showed that just a 7 percent increase in adoption could grow well over one million jobs." He also points to the possibility of benefits in education, health care, elderly care, and the beginning of a smart grid for energy.
  • And This FCC Guy Just Might Change Things  "It's too early to tell whether Genachowski's efforts will turn into real change," writes Balloon Juice's mistermix, "but he's making a lot of the right noises." He likes the broadband testing site set up by the FCC, intended to collect data on Internet speed throughout the country, and suggests readers immediately visit and test their connection.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.