Barry Umansky and Robert Yadon at the Digital Policy Institute have a list anyone concerned with broadband issues should read.

Their top 10 list of broadband’s importance to consumers recently appeared in Fierce Telecom, outlining beliefs that the advancing interest of consumers today should be a major driving force in government policymaking processes regarding broadband expansion and enhanced connectivity.

“Our 21st century digital infrastructure can be the conduit for many consumer benefits,” the co-authors of the list wrote. “As part of our review of those many benefits, we’ve developed a top 10 list that federal and state officials should consider when making choices that can affect the availability and capacity of broadband.“

This list, they explained, is only illustrative of broadband’s importance to consumers; it is not comprehensive.

1. Financial Savings

2. Entertainment Savings

3. Increased Productivity

4. Educational Benefits

5. Voice Communication

6. Societal Participation

7. Informed Electorate

8. Healthcare Access

9. Public and Emergency Services

10. Environmental Protection

The article provides some supporting facts and studies for each on the list. But, why make a list like this one?

“Although much of our research and writing at the Digital Policy Institute is of a much longer-form, we think that these top 10 lists help experts and laymen alike focus on key elements of the topic being addressed,” Umansky told WRAL Tech Wire.

Many of the drill-down aspects included with the list were fairly self-explanatory such as cost-savings, benefits to education and business, but the societal benefits they discussed were interesting in how broadband Internet allows citizens to be more active in their communities and in the world.

“They (citizens) can take advantage of broadband-based tools connecting them to government services, banking, and community organizations,” they explained. “Now more than ever, websites are using graphics, video, and audio clips that are more difficult for consumers to access, read, view, and enjoy without the use of broadband.”

Also, within that context, they provided evidence that citizens who use the Internet on a regular basis have a greater understanding of what’s happening in their communities, states, and the country. Citizens are able to access not just a small number of mass media outlets, but may survey the entire range of opinions and perspectives available over the Internet.

As broadband technologies permeate the offices and operations of American business, government and household life more and more, those without broadband often find themselves increasingly isolated from the opportunities and satisfactions enjoyed by the rest of America.

The FCC notes, “The ability to share large amounts of information at ever-greater speeds increases productivity, facilitates commerce, and drives innovation. Broadband is changing how we communicate with each other, how and where we work, how we educate our children, and how we entertain ourselves.”

This concept of digital citizenship, or the capacity to use information technology, is not new. But, the Digital Policy Institute managed to present this idea in a much clearer form in this recent list. It’s worth taking a look.

And, what if there was an 11th item on this list?

Umansky said one possible benefit addressed to a degree by the other benefits on the current list could be how broadband can help bring huge benefits to rural consumers and communities. He added, “In fact, we hope that increased rural broadband service will be given key attention by industry and government over the near term.”

The Digital Policy Institute, an independent research and policy development organization located at Ball State University in Indiana. It is also a member organization of the Consumer Advisory Committee at the FCC.