This month, President Obama had broadband on his mind. He signed an executive order to make broadband construction cheaper and more efficient on federally owned or controlled land and buildings as well as along federal roadways. This corresponds with another new initiative on broadband technology, a public-private partnership dubbed U.S. Ignite.
The president is to be applauded for his commitment to strengthening our broadband infrastructure, and for taking action to make broadband infrastructure a bit easier to build. While it is more and more apparent that wireless is the future of broadband Internet, cell tower build out is a major barrier to private sector infrastructure -- something that many have called upon Congress to address.
As early as 2014, more people may go online via mobile devices than PCs. To ensure that this trend can continue, we need intelligent government policies that allocate additional spectrum for consumer wireless use and make Wi-Fi deployment easier. Quite simply, more spectrum must be allocated by the federal government to companies capable of properly utilizing it in order to keep consumer costs down, improve reliability and increase the availability of wireless broadband access.
In announcing the executive order the president said, "Building a nationwide broadband network will strengthen our economy and put more Americans back to work." In conjunction with the Executive Order, US Ignite will integrate and "research-enable" U.S. campuses, research backbone networks, and American cities that are broadband capable by leveraging previous investments in network infrastructure through GENI (the Global Environment for Network Innovations). Moreover, this will jump start a number of at-scale experiments designed to advance public sector applications and services. It will also set up a public-private partnership that brings together industry, foundation and community partners and resources.
While this initiative will no doubt enhance the information super-highway for more Americans, we must recognize that, similar to bridge and road development, broadband infrastructure is an ongoing concern that requires constant maintenance and upkeep. If we are to truly achieve President Obama's previously stated objective of deploying broadband access to 98% of the American population, we need to plan for the short term -- and for the long term.
President Obama and his administration deserve much credit for seeing the need for improved broadband infrastructure and acting to meet this need. U.S. Ignite will be a catalyst for education and workforce development -- advancing manufacturing, health, transportation, public safety, and clean energy applications. The resulting applications should spur the U.S. economy and provide a broad range of job and investment opportunities.
We believe speeding the deployment of broadband Internet infrastructure and promoting widespread broadband access benefits society. The US Ignite Partnership will do just that.
Jason A. Llorenz, Esq. is Executive Director, the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP). Follow on Twitter: @hispanicttp. www.httponline.org.
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