New York Times op-ed: Broadband must be an infrastructure priority

The New York Times hosted an online discussion on American infrastructure priorities. On the Room for Debate section experts suggested roads and bridges, water systems, and the electric power grid as the infrastructure most in need of attention.


Nicol Turner-Lee, vice president and chief research and policy officer at the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council, contributed to the debate by arguing that high-speed broadband should be recognized alongside the traditional infrastructure like road and highways as vital to the people of the country, that public policy and private investment should encourage broadband infrastructure investment, and that high-speed Internet should be available to all households:


More than 80 percent of American adults use the Internet, a number that will continue to increase alongside consumer demand for broadband-enabled devices and applications. Given this trend, the U.S. should expand its current definition of physical infrastructure beyond local and national water mains, electrical grids, roads, bridges and highways to include high-speed broadband. And, it’s imperative that broadband is widely available to every citizen, regardless of who they are and where they live.


[…]


Generally, the private sector has been critical in scaling and sustaining broadband networks, making government incentives only part of the solution. Regulatory certainty is of equal importance as industry works toward adequate returns on their investments. Despite years of fluid investment in broadband infrastructure, some economists argue that the F.C.C.’s recent reclassification of broadband Internet as a Title II service, will see a corollary decline in the building and enhancing of networks, despite increased government incentives.


President Obama has outlined aggressive goals for wireless infrastructure, prompting immediate actions to alleviate the current strains on this platform. Yet, without sound legislation and public policies that incentivize the continued development of robust broadband and the repurposing of federal spectrum from government to commercial uses, wireless infrastructure will not evolve into a more sustainable and reliable asset.


Going forward, we must support policies and investments that encourage, not limit, broadband infrastructure investments. Our nation builds roads and highways to make it easier for citizens to reach their destinations without limited interruptions and costs. The same goals should be applied to broadband to make it easier, faster, and more cost effective for all citizens to connect.


Read the entire article here, and all the contributions to the debate here.

Don’t Forget About High-Speed Broadband (New York Times, Nov. 24, 2015)

 

Bridge, Broadband, Water Mains – What to Fix First (New York Times, Nov. 24, 2015)