December 2nd, 2008 | Published in Google Public Policy
While folks in D.C. have been talking for years about the need for a comprehensive U.S. policy on broadband, there are promising signs that a new coalition announced today may be able to help bring that aspiration closer to fruition.
This morning on Capitol Hill I joined a broad and diverse group of communications providers, tech companies, and public interest groups to issue a Call to Action for adoption of a national broadband strategy.
Just as the expansion of electric power and the development of the interstate highway system drove economic growth in the previous century, high-speed Internet access is an essential input to a 21st century economy. Unfortunately, the U.S. continues to fall further and further behind other countries in broadband penetration, speed, and uptake, a situation that poses a serious threat to our nation's ability to compete in today's global economy.
We need a national broadband strategy to reverse this trend. High-speed Internet access will generate enormous economic and other benefits for all Americans. As the Call to Action puts it, the broadband-enabled Internet has become "a catalyst for innovation, economic growth, job creation, educational opportunity and global competitiveness."
To me, three key pieces are necessary to fully support an open and generative Internet. First, we need more competitive, ubiquitous, and mobile pipes, at faster speeds, and with greater uptake by consumers. Second, we need enough raw capacity available on those pipes to support robust Internet access. And third, we need open, neutral on-ramps to the Net itself. Importantly, all three elements are outlined in today's Call for Action. When you add in the impressive breadth and depth of the coalition membership, we may finally be on the road to adoption of a real national broadband strategy.