Friday, January 23, 2009

Broadband policy -- how can we catch up?

The US government funded the development of the Internet, but our infrastructure has fallen well behind many other developed nations. We have little fiber in our access networks, and have failed to establish competitive Internet-service markets.

President Obama has stated “As we renew our schools and highways, we'll also renew our information super highway,” and set a goal of deploying next-generation broadband:

(To) work towards true broadband in every community in America through a combination of reform of the Universal Service Fund, better use of the nation's wireless spectrum, promotion of next-generation facilities, technologies and applications, and new tax and loan incentives. America should lead the world in broadband penetration and Internet access.
Obama intends to involve the government more heavily in planning, subsidizing and procuring Internet infrastructure.

If our only concern were rapid economic stimulus, we could subsidize today's telephone and cable companies, but they have not served us well. We need to consider long run technology and the structure of the industry as well as quick stimulus. The infrastructure we install today will be with us for decades.

For more on this topic see this article or this PowerPoint presentation.