A study from the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project finds that the rate of broadband adoption in the United States has slowed, and that a majority of Americans feel that the National Broadband Plan should not be a government priority. Broadband expansion may be just what the country needs to get back on track, though.
According to the study, 53 percent of those surveyed feel that broadband expansion is not an important priority for the United States government, or shouldn't be attempted at all. However, 65 percent believe that lack of broadband is a disadvantage when it comes to finding out about job opportunities or gaining new career skills, 62 percent feel lack of broadband is a disadvantage for those seeking health information, and 56 percent think that lack of broadband is a disadvantage for gaining access to government services.
Expanding broadband access and increasing the average broadband speed requires investment by the United States government. It is understandable to think that the Internet is frivolous and the government has bigger fish to fry--a fragile recovering economy, persistent threat of terrorist attack, ongoing military engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, high unemployment rates, and more.
The National Broadband Plan is stuck in a vicious circle where it is both the problem and the solution. For example, the economic recession might make government investment in broadband seem capricious, but it could also put people back to work and help drive the economy forward. People will be needed to build and manage the expanded broadband infrastructure, and broader access to high-speed Internet opens doors for innovation and investment.
The underlying truth is that a robust broadband network is vital part of the solution to many of the issues that stand in its way. The Internet--and high speed broadband access to it--is a critical element of commerce, finance, national defense, and public safety. Broader availability of faster Internet access can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of existing businesses and services, and open potential opportunities for new entrepreneurial endeavors.
It is not sufficient to assume that just because the broadband infrastructure of the nation seems to be adequate to meet today's needs, that there is no justification for investing in expanding and improving it to meet tomorrow's needs. By the time tomorrow comes, the country will be that much more behind, that much more in disarray, and the effort required to turn the tide and get on the right track will be exponentially greater.
Putting off investing in our broadband infrastructure is like procrastinating putting fuel in your vehicle. The car may still be cruising along right now, but eventually it will run out of gas. At the point it will be too late. You will have to leave your car on the side of the road while you hike three miles to the nearest gas station to fill up one of those little red gas cans, and then hike back. What should have been a five minute stop to add fuel becomes a five hour ordeal.
Broadband Internet is vital to the future security and economic stability of the nation. The United States is already behind other developed nations, and it can't afford to put broadband on the back burner.