What is the National Broadband Plan and its Impact on Individuals? Broadband in Every Home is Obama’s Version of “Chicken in Every Pot”

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There’s been a lot in the news this week about the National Broadband Plan, and while it was first inserted into public awareness nearly a year ago, many were not aware of even the possibility of a National Broadband Plan, let alone the reality of it, until recently. At its broadest, the National Broadband Plan is about making sure that the U.S. has a robust, and wicked-fast, broadband infrastructure, to not only keep up with – but to keep ahead of – the rapidly changing Internet landscape and demands. It looks at allocation and reallocation of parts of the wireless spectrum, it considers redefining Federal funds currently earmarked to ensure that everybody has access to basic telephone service to include broadband access as well, and it looks at who ought to be paying for all of this broadband development and access.

But it also has aspects that are much more personal, and hit much closer to home for the average American.


These aspects of the National Broadband Plan are based on the premise that in order for the United States to be competitive in a global market, every U.S. citizen needs to have access to the Internet. And, in order for every U.S. citizen to have access to decent healthcare, they need to have access to the Internet. And, in order for every U.S. citizen to have a hope for cleaner energy, they need to have access to the Internet. And in order for every U.S. citizen to be safe in their home, they need to have access to the Internet. And in order for every U.S. citizen to have a more responsive government and greater access to that government, they need to have access to the Internet. (Do you detect a theme here?)

That’s an awful lot of weight to put on the shoulders of something as seemingly basic as Internet access, but that’s exactly the point that those in favor of this plan are trying to make: that broadband is basic – in fact, a basic human right, to which everyone should be entitled, just like water and heat.

And so, the Obama administration included provisions for a National Broadband Plan in last year’s Stimulus Package, and tasked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with coming up with the National Broadband Plan. And this month the FCC presented their findings in a 376-page report to Congress.

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The Executive Summary of that report starts out by stating that:

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.”

The National Broadband Plan website explains that we need broadband in every home for the following reasons:

 

Healthcare: “Broadband and health IT will transform health care in America, creating better outcomes and lowering costs.”

Public Safety: “With a nationwide public safety broadband wireless network, first responders will be able to send and receive video and data in moments, improving their ability to communicate with each other and the public.

Civic Engagement: “Broadband can increase public access to government information and provide new ways for citizens to participate in their democracy and community.”

Government Performance: “From city hall to the U.S. Capitol, government can better serve the American people by relying more on broadband.”

Economic Opportunity: “Broadband enables American businesses, workers and communities to think big and grow bigger. By investing in broadband, we’ll introduce markets to new opportunities and customers to new products.”

Public Education: “Broadband investment will help America lead the world in educational innovation by supporting 21st century teaching and learning both in the classroom and outside of it.”

Energy & The Environment: “Next-generation energy solutions require investment in broadband to modernize electric power grid, unleash energy innovation in homes, and enable more efficient transportation in the future.”

According to the Executive Summary, while 200 million Americans now have broadband in their homes, 100 million Americans do not.

The bottom line, says the National Broadband Plan executive summary, is that we need to ensure that those 100 million Americans have broadband at home too.

Quoting directly from the Executive Summary now:


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 broad-band communications network, even though such a network could improve emergency response and homeland security.

Fulfilling the Congressional Mandate in early 2009, Congress directed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to develop a National Broadband Plan to ensure every American has “access to broadband capability.”

They have even come up with a catchy phrase for this initiative: “The 100 Squared Initiative”, with the stated goal of getting 100 megabits per second to those 100 million households currently without Internet access.

Still, perhaps not as catchy a phrase as “A Chicken in Every Pot”, and, of course, having access to the Internet is still not going to fill an empty stomach.

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2 thoughts on “What is the National Broadband Plan and its Impact on Individuals? Broadband in Every Home is Obama’s Version of “Chicken in Every Pot”

  1. mr. moffit makes very good points. also, where does this “basic right” come from? i don’t find it anywhere in precedent law. anymore than several other “discovered rights” currently in fashion in certain political circles.

  2. Broadband Internet is a basic American right? Does that mean that big government will start providing to me for free? I have not always had access to broadband Internet access and that is because there was a time I could not afford it much less need it. I remember a time when I did not have a smart phone, a pager, laptop, WiFi or an iPod. My life was just fine without it. I understand the advantages to having high speed Internet access but I have a huge problem with big government stating that it is a basic American right. What happened to going to the local library to get free Internet access which is provided as a public server to the citizens? What will the government come up with next? Will we really have the money to help pay for it?

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