Bruce P. Mehlman
The Internet Innovation Alliance is a broad-based coalition of business and non-profit organizations that aim to ensure every American, regardless of race, income or geography, has access to the critical tool that is broadband Internet. The IIA seeks to promote public policies that support equal opportunity for universal broadband availability and adoption so that everyone, everywhere can seize the benefits of the Internet - from education to health care, employment to community building, civic engagement and beyond.
Broadband expenditures in 2009 should seek projects that are well-defined, and, to the maximum extent possible, shovel ready. They also should reflect previous experience, such as the benefits of connecting libraries and community technology centers.
5% of Americans have no broadband options whatsoever, while 45% do not see value in adoption. The top priority for stimulus investments should be deployment of broadband to unserved areas where residents do not have access to wireline broadband or satellite broadband Internet services.
States, cities and non-profit organizations should play a leading role as they are in the best able to identify community needs and offer creative, region-specific solutions.
Do not set rules on the $7 billion of stimulus funding that discourage the more than $60 billion annually invested by the private sector. Focus on the importance of digital literacy and consumer education for improved broadband adoption and usage.
Read more: Stimulus: Funding Priorities
A National Broadband Strategy should be adopted that focuses on the “supply side” (promoting broadband deployment and access) and the “demand side” (encouraging broadband adoption and addressing gaps in understanding). Read more about IIA’s national broadband strategy.
Read more: IIA’s National Broadband Strategy.
The FCC released a Notice of Inquiry on developing a national broadband plan that will seek to ensure that every American has access to broadband capability. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 requires the FCC to create a national broadband plan and to deliver it to Congress by Feb. 17, 2010.
Read more: Stimulus: A National Broadband Strategy
“We want to ensure that everyone has access to broadband, and we also want to ensure that everyone has access to broadband at meaningful speeds and affordable prices and can benefit from competition among service providers.”
“…the best way to assure the bulk of stimulus funds are targeted and expended in the most efficient manner possible is to, as Congress directed, rely extensively on the States.”
Raul Katz, director-business strategy research at the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information (CITI), said that while the construction of broadband facilities under the ARRA would create about 128,000 jobs - about 44,000 fewer than would be created by equivalent spending on traditional infrastructure such as roads and bridges - the impact of network effects could range from a net loss of 1,000 jobs to a net gain of 270,000 jobs.
“In addition to hardware, urban families need help with literacy- appropriate training and content, and a lot of ongoing support to cross the digital divide. Giving families the ability to earn these services via "sweat equity" is a proven way to help them overcome the barriers to broadband adoption and incorporate the innumerable benefits of the online world into their daily lives.”
“As specified by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, government can play a role in stimulating both supply and demand. Programs that integrate what we consider six key drivers: adoption, public/private partnerships, intentionality, affordability, sustainability and innovation can support the development of a digital ecosystem and promote a culture of use. These six drivers should serve as a framework for evaluating requests for broadband stimulus funding and drive our national goal to bring access to unserved and underserved communities.”
In this paper we analyze the economic impact of broadband deployment on consumer welfare, job creation, and economic output. This study represents an update of prior studies conducted in 2001 and 2003, in which we made several projections based on the best available data at the time. We begin by comparing those predictions against the actual U.S. broadband experience during the past decade. As it turns out, many of our predictions concerning economic welfare and employment/output effects were conservative because we could not envision the myriad applications made possible by broadband connections; nor could we envision the rate at which broadband access prices would fall. In a largely deregulatory climate, broadband penetration skyrocketed to nearly 65 percent penetration by the end of the decade as absolute and quality-adjusted prices fell, and first-generation technologies—cable modem, DSL, and 3G wireless—individually covered approximately 90 percent of all U.S. households and collectively covered even more.
In the second part of the paper, we analyze how much additional investment will naturally occur to wire the country with next-generation technologies. That new investment will expand domestic output and it will create jobs. We also estimate the output and job effects under an alternative scenario in which next-generation deployment is accelerated and is expanded in scope. Recognizing our limited ability to conceptualize next=generation applications, we attempt to estimate the spillover effect of next-generation technologies on other sectors of the economy. Finally, we briefly assess various policy options facing regulators. Given the amount of investment that continues to be deployed in this sector and the precarious current state of the U.S. economy, and given the linkage between that investment and jobs/output, regulators must diligently avoid taking any steps that might undermine the industry’s incentives to invest.
Sometime in June we’ll see the start of a nationwide mad dash for $7.2
billion that is the down payment on a U.S. national broadband strategy.
Expect this to be a highly competitive process.
Over $7 billion has been earmarked for broadband expansion in the federal economic stimulus. The top priority for stimulus investments should be deployment of broadband to unserved areas.
Read more: IIA_Broadband_Stimulus_Overview.pdf
The FCC Notice of Inquiry seeks comment to inform the development of a national broadband plan for our country. Its focus is to enable the build-out and utilization of high-speed broadband infrastructure.
To paraphrase Mark Twain, for the past decade, there has been a lot of talk in Washington about broadband, but no one has done much about it. That changes today, as the Department of Commerce, the Department of Agriculture and the Federal Communications Commission will explain how the Obama administration intends to use the provisions of the stimulus bill to ensure that broadband technologies are available to, and affordable for, every American.