In a month, the Federal Communications Commission will deliver a National Broadband Plan, as it was asked to do by Congress and the President in the Recovery Act.
This will be a meaningful plan for U.S. global leadership in high-speed Internet to create jobs and spur economic growth; to unleash new waves of innovation and investment; and to improve education, health care, energy efficiency, public safety, and the vibrancy of our democracy.
I believe this plan is vitally important to America's future.
Studies from the Brookings Institute, MIT, the World Bank, and others all tell us the same thing -- that even modest increases in broadband adoption can yield hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Broadband empowers small businesses to compete and grow and will ensure that the jobs and industries of tomorrow are created in the United States.
The economic benefits of broadband go hand-in-hand with social benefits and the potential for vast improvements in the quality of life for all Americans.
The National Broadband Plan will describe concrete ways in which broadband can be a part of 21st century solutions to some of our nation’s most pressing challenges, including:
These are real benefits for real people -- like the unemployed forty-seven-year-old I met in the Bronx who got job training over the Internet to become a telecom technician. And the employees of Blue Valley Meats, in the small town of Diller, Nebraska, which doubled its workforce and saw 40 percent growth by setting up a website and selling its beef online -- once Diller got broadband.
But right now, we are at a crossroads. For while the United States invented the Internet, when it comes to broadband we are lagging behind where we should be.
Roughly 14 million Americans do not have access to broadband, and more than 100 million Americans who could and should have broadband don't. That’s an adoption rate of roughly 65 percent of U.S. households, compared with 88 percent adoption in Singapore, and 95 percent adoption in South Korea. The U.S. adoption rate is even lower among low-income, minority, rural, tribal, and disabled households.
This country can and must do better. In today’s global economy, leading the world in broadband is leading the world.
This is where the National Broadband Plan comes in. By setting ambitious goals and laying out proposals to connect all Americans to a world-class broadband infrastructure, we will help secure our country's global competitiveness for generations to come.
The FCC's National Broadband Plan will include the following key recommendations:
The quantitative and qualitative benefits of these proposals -- and the many others that the FCC's plan will contain -- are vast. Connecting the country to higher speeds means more jobs, more innovation, and more economic growth.
The National Broadband Plan will chart a clear path forward -- ensuring that broadband is our enduring engine for creating jobs and growing our economy, for spreading knowledge and enhancing civic engagement, for advancing a healthier, sustainable way of life.
Pursuing the opportunity of universal broadband is, I believe, a universal goal. Our technology future is one that we can -- and must -- create together.
Julius Genachowski is Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission