When it comes to broadband speed, penetration, and adoption, the United States continues to lag behind many countries in Asia and Europe by several measures. In its National Broadband Plan, the Federal Communications Commission should seize the opportunity to ensure that our nation's digital infrastructure will be capable of meeting the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century.
The broadband plan should include both near-term solutions, as well as explicit long-term stretch goals for bringing ultra high-speed broadband to each and every American household. Here are just a few ideas:
First, the FCC should require that fiber conduit be installed as part of every federally-funded infrastructure project. By some estimates nearly 90 percent of the cost of deploying fiber is associated with construction costs like tearing up and repairing roads. Laying fiber conduit during the construction or repair of roads and other public works projects will dramatically reduce deployment costs.
Second, the FCC should set a goal to connect broadband fiber to every school, library, community health care center, and public housing facility in the United States. This would create community hub centers nationwide, providing access to underserved populations and potentially acting as a springboard for more widespread broadband adoption in these communities.
Third, the FCC should create incentives for providers to install multiple lines of fiber as new networks are rolled out. These unused fibers could in turn be leased or sold to other network operators, increasing competition along with deployment.
Fourth, the FCC should encourage greater wireless broadband and reduce barriers to deployment. The Commission should allocate our nation's spectrum efficiently, with the goal of providing better and faster wireless broadband connections to American consumers.
For years, one of Google's top policy priorities has been to advocate for greater availability and uptake of open, affordable, high-speed broadband Internet service. Google recently announced plans to build and test an experimental network that would deliver speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today, and we hope the FCC will encourage similar experiments.
For its part, Verizon has pushed the envelope with its Fios deployment, delivering fiber connections to millions of homes. But more can and should be done if we are to catch-up to the rest of the industralized world.
Richard Whitt is Washington telecom and media counsel for Google Inc.
See other articles in this Point/Counterpoint series:
U.S. broadband plan needs apps, not just fast pipes
Don't rely on market forces to deploy broadband