July 21st, 2008 | Published in Google Public Policy
The FCC's public hearing today in Pittsburgh, on "Broadband and the Digital Future," raises the question: what does the future of broadband have in store for us?
The most important answer is that we don't know, and that's a good thing. Unanticipated innovation is what makes the Internet extraordinary.
The past and present of broadband has demonstrated this point time and again. In his testimony today, Google's Vice President for Content Partnerships David Eun pointed up the fact that, just three years ago, no one could have predicted the rise of YouTube, as well as other online video platforms, and the pervasive effect they would have on creativity, politics, education, and our daily lives. It was an unanticipated innovation that has given rise to previously unimagined forms of discourse and commerce. That's true not only of YouTube, but of Google, Skype, Facebook, eBay, the Web itself, and myriad other innovations.
In turn, the future of broadband is about more than the "convergence" of voice, video, and data onto one platform, or simply improved version of services we already know, like higher quality streaming video. Faster, bigger broadband pipes can certainly bring us that, but they can also enable novel creations that we cannot yet imagine. In other words, more broadband doesn't just mean more of the same -- more is different.
As David noted, we ought to take stock of how the open Internet has catalyzed new ideas and technologies to flourish. While we can't predict what innovations may lie around the corner, we can clear a path today for a bright broadband future tomorrow.