The National Broadband Plan, which Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski announced on Wednesday, will likely improve internet access and speeds throughout the U.S. However, Washington Post technology writer Rob Pegoraro believes the economic implications are such that the increased web availability will not greatly alter the way Americans use the internet. The primary goal of the plan for those who already have reliable web access is to provide further options and competition among potential providers. Improving infrastructure and making use of unused wavelengths will allow consumers to choose from options that may have been outside of their service area before the plan. Pegoraro believes that the cost of buying the unused airwaves, though, will be high and force the FCC to develop a tax on internet use to fund its purchases – even after it receives funding from Congress. A report released in March 2009 by the International Telecommunications Industry found that the United States ranked 17th in the world in web adoption. Sweden and South Korea were the two best developed nations in terms of web presence and infrastructure. The study took place from 2002 to 2007 and also found that Eastern Europe grew the most as a region.
The Federal Communications Commission’s plan to develop a national broadband network that would reportedly provide more than 100 million Americans with high-speed interent access, which it is due to present to Congress in one week – already has some critics due to the cost implications and potential interference in the business of internet service providers – according to Business Week.
The plan calls for the owners of unused airwaves to sell them to the government for use in the project. Paul Karowicz, the owner of 12 local television stations throughout the U.S., does not plan to sell any of his excess airwaves to the government and thinks the government will meet similar resistance from broadcasters in similar circumstances.
The Cellular Telephone Industries Association, the telecommunications industry trade group, supports the plan, however.
Broadband access has made news recently following the announcement of three states receiving funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Cities throughout the U.S. vying to attract Google after the search engine giant announced plans to install a 1 gigabyte per second broadband connection in select cities.
The state of Washington announced recently that it received $84 million in grants from the federal government to improve web access and broadband speed throughout the state.
Education experts cite the so-called digital divide as growing factor contributing to education gaps from rural, suburban and urban communities. Eighty-nine percent of households with an average yearly income of $150,000 have high-speed internet access, while 29 percent earning less than $15,000 have internet access.
In general, the U.S. lags behind other developed nations in web access, according to the Seattle Times.
“This is a direct investment in making our state more competitive,” Senator Patty Murray said. “Not only with other states here at home, but with other countries around the globe. This grant will bring tele-health, distance learning and help for small businesses to many regions in our state for the first time.”
The Federal Communication Commission reported recently that two-thirds of the American population has access to high-speed internet. Among rural populations, less than half have adequate internet access and 5 percent of the total U.S. population relies on a dial-up modem.
For those not hooked up to high speed internet access for one reason or another, Uncle Sam wants you.
Well, actually, federal regulators are trying to push the number of homes connected to 90 percent by 2020, according to recent statements by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
“This is an ambitious goal,” Genachowski said in a recent speech. The goal will be part of the commission’s mandated national broadband plan, which is due to Congress by March 17, he said.
“The economic benefits of broadband go hand-in-hand with social benefits and the potential for vast improvements in the quality of life of all Americans,” said Genachowski. “Right now, more than 100 million Americans that could and should have broadband don’t have it. Because they can’t afford broadband, don’t know how to use it, or aren’t aware of its potential benefits.”
Currently, about 35 percent of Americans don’t use broadband at home, according to an FCC survey. In fact, Genachowski said that 100 million Americans do not have broadband and that the U.S. adoption rate lags behind Singapore and South Korea.