FCC Chair Focuses on Small Business Broadband Adoption

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski recently announced a new program intended to drive small business broadband investment. The public-private partnership includes representatives from AT&T, Google, Microsoft, Cisco, HP, and others, and will help the United States maintain its high-speed Internet advantage in the coming years.

During the development of the National Broadband Plan it became clear that while the U.S. was lagging behind other countries in broadband adoption, small businesses had been especially slow to adopt high-speed service.

Chairman Genachowski sees broadband adoption as essential to job creation for small businesses:

"We saw that small businesses are lagging compared to where they need to be to meet the potential of small businesses to generate jobs in the United States, to contribute to economic activity. We saw that are problems with access and we saw that there are problems with training and understanding of the benefits of broadband."

Genachowksi also cited the example of CEO Warren Brown. Brown is CEO of Washington-based bakery Cakelove. He spoke at an August FCC broadband workshop on how the Internet has helped expand his business. Citing Brown's speech, Genachowski noted, "Today if you want to succeed with a business you have to go to where the customers are. The customers are online. The customers are on their mobile broadband phones."

In a recent study on innovative capacity, the United States ranked last out of 40 countries. According to the survey many top Silicon Valley firms are even sending their technology officers overseas to China. This development worries Genachowski.

Currently over 95 percent of small businesses have broadband access. But that doesn't mean that all connections are equal. Most businesses in the U.S. don't use their broadband efficiently, because they aren't trained or it's not fast enough.

"We need to help get them information about what services are available to them, how to make use of those services for their business," said Jeff Brueggeman, AT&T Vice President of Public Policy. "We need to help them secure their services. [...] Unlike a large company, they don't have the resources to kind of have a dedicated technical staff in many cases."

The National Broadband Plan was released late last month. It asks Congress to designate funds specifically for training both businesses and individuals on high-speed Internet technology.

Press Release on Business Broadband Program (FCC)

National Broadband Plan (FCC)

CWA urges NTIA to focus on job creation (Speedmatters)

Commerce Dept. Funds Internet Training Programs in California, New York (Speedmatters)