The FCC has laid out its plan to propel America forward in the battle for data. The U.S. has been struggling in offering broadband services — which is what happens when you have corporate monopolies — and without competition, the buildout of broadband infrastructure has been slow going. Other countries are now beginning to dwarf the States in broadband infrastructure, and this is a serious cause for concern. But the FCC has high hopes to change this around.
The National Broadband Plan has been created to overhaul broadband services, and within it there are six goals defined. These goals call for
- at least 100 million homes in the U.S. having access to the Internet at speeds of at least 100Mbps download and 50Mbps upload;
- the United States being the leader in mobile technology, with the fastest and most extensive infrastructure of all the countries in the world;
- all Americans having access to affordable broadband services with the knowledge to subscribe to these services;
- all communities having access to 1Gbps for schools, hospitals, and government buildings;
- all first responders having access to a public safety network;
- and, for a cleaner and greener America, all Americans having the tools to track their real-time energy consumption.
That is a lot to ask for from a nation that is in debt up to its eyeballs; however, this is what needs to be done in order to compete on a global scale in the future.
Along with a lack of general availability, the U.S. is also lagging behind in average connection speeds (see above graph).
One must assume that the government wants increased competition — how that will happen, who knows. Around my neck of the woods in Virginia, I only have access to 3Mbps download and 785kbps upload speeds at around $40 per month from Verizon or $65+ from Charter. Not too encouraging, right? I wouldn't mind seeing the price drop to half that. A speed boost would be welcomed as well. If this plan can help accomplish that, I would be satisfied.
Apart from my own personal desires for speedy and affordable broadband access, if this plan gets put into action and ends up successful, its effects will be great for the country.
Web-based content consumption will skyrocket. Premium video content will explode onto the Internet, as your traditional media providers will have no choice but to adapt or die (which is probably making the folks at Comcast and TimeWarner want to cry). Web-based alternatives, like Hulu and Netflix, will offer a cheaper alternative than the traditional way of media consumption. (Yes, this spells further doom and gloom for the newspaper industry.)
Smartphones and mobile technology will increase in popularity, and purchases will go up. As a nation that craves smartphones — without the expensive price tags for data and voice — this might change the habits of cellular providers for the better (granted, that is a long-shot).
But I hope this works out. The increased access to Internet services not only benefits our whole economy, but it will likely boost the tech industry in drastic ways: more mobile device sales, computer sales, and spending on Web-based services. The advertising industry would likely benefit as well.
It's clear that there is demand for this technology and speed. Every nation wants it, and now is time for our country to get the ball rolling and start meeting that demand head-on. The National Broadband Plan is a step in the right direction. However, it is action — not planning — that is required for this to succeed.