The U.S. National Broadband Plan should focus on goals for three key areas--access to quality broadband, adoption of broadband, and applications using broadband.
There are still significant portions of our country without meaningful broadband access and the plan must address that. Access to basic broadband should be provided to virtually every home, business, school, library and healthcare facility in America.
Broadband is not a static technology; demand for faster bandwidth continues to grow. Therefore, the Plan should adopt a stretch goal of providing 100 megabits per second connections to most Americans, with a longer term goal of a gigabit per second.
But access alone is meaningless if not used. So the National Broadband Plan should identify a collection of projects to educate the public about the benefits of broadband as well as how to access and use broadband technology.
Just having broadband is not enough by itself. Applications that bring the benefit of broadband to the nation must be adopted and intensively used.
The National Broadband Plan should focus on growing applications in key areas to impact our quality of life. Those applications should focus on growing small and medium businesses, as well as providing better education, more affordable and accessible health care and a modernized, more environmentally-friendly energy infrastructure.
Finally, government should lead by example, aggressively adopting broadband applications to improve services and lower costs, while jumpstarting new broadband applications and markets.
Much like electricity a century ago, broadband will bring productivity to our workers, better education to our children, more affordable healthcare to those who need it, and energy and environmental efficiency to our planet. Also like electricity, private investment will provide quality broadband to most Americans, but it will take government policy to get it to all.
With its National Broadband Plan, the U.S. joins countries like Japan, France and virtually every developed economy in the world in laying out a vision and roadmap for improving the quality and accessibility of broadband across all relevant sectors. Cisco has been advocating for a National Broadband Plan for a decade and we are pleased to see it finally come to fruition.
Jeff Campbell is senior director of technology and trade policy at Cisco Systems Inc.
See other articles in this Point/Counterpoint series:
High fiber diet needed for U.S. broadband plan
Don't rely on market forces to deploy broadband