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Editor’s note: The following are excerpts from the executive summary of the Federal Communications Commission’s “National Broadband Plan” that was released on Tuesday.
Broadband is the great infrastructure challenge of the early 21st century.
Like electricity a century ago, broadband is a foundation for economic growth, job creation, global competitiveness and a better way of life. It is enabling entire new industries and unlocking vast new possibilities for existing ones. It is changing how we educate children, deliver health care, manage energy, ensure public safety, engage government, and access, organize and disseminate knowledge.
Fueled primarily by private sector investment and innovation, the American broadband ecosystem has evolved rapidly.
The number of Americans who have broadband at home has grown from eight million in 2000 to nearly 200 million last year. Increasingly capable fixed and mobile networks allow Americans to access a growing number of valuable applications through innovative devices.
But broadband in America is not all it needs to be.
Approximately 100 million Americans do not have broadband at home. Broadband-enabled health information technology (IT) can improve care and lower costs by hundreds of billions of dollars in the coming decades, yet the United States is behind many advanced countries in the adoption of such technology.
Broadband can provide teachers with tools that allow students to learn the same course material in half the time, but there is a dearth of easily accessible digital educational content required for such opportunities. A broadband-enabled Smart Grid could increase energy independence and efficiency, but much of the data required to capture these benefits are inaccessible to consumers, businesses and entrepreneurs. And nearly a decade after 9/11, our first responders still lack a nationwide public safety mobile broadband communications network, even though such a network could improve emergency response and homeland security. …
In addition to the recommendations above, the plan recommends that the country adopt and track the following six goals to serve as a compass over the next decade.
Goal No. 1: At least 100 million U.S. homes should have affordable access to actual download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second and actual upload speeds of at least 50 megabits per second.
Goal No. 2: The United States should lead the world in mobile innovation, with the fastest and most extensive wireless networks of any nation.
Goal No. 3: Every American should have affordable access to robust broadband service, and the means and skills to subscribe if they so choose.
Goal No. 4: Every American community should have affordable access to at least 1 gigabit per second broadband service to anchor institutions such as schools, hospitals and government buildings.
Goal No. 5: To ensure the safety of the American people, every first responder should have access to a nationwide, wireless, interoperable broadband public safety network.
Goal No. 6: To ensure that America leads in the clean energy economy, every American should be able to use broadband to track and manage their real-time energy consumption.
(Editor’s note: The Competitive Enterprise Institute has concerns about the FCC plan. ()