The FCC`s National Broadband Plan
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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has decided to tackle a massive endeavor. It wants to bring broadband Internet to every American in the country. What are the ramifications? Could they actually accomplish this ambitious goal?
It’s being called the National Broadband Plan, and though it’s met a bit of resistance on behalf of law makers and citizens alike, there’s no denying that the statistics that have been released by the FCC are quite shocking in this day and age.
According to the commission, “nearly 100 million Americans do not have broadband today and 14 million Americans do not have access to broadband infrastructure that can support today and tomorrow’s applications and more than 10 million school-age children do not have home access to this primary research tool used by most students for homework.”
It has been reported that many in rural areas are still being forced to use dial-up Internet, something many Americans assumed had been done away with years ago. Those opposed to the plan argue that broadband is an unnecessary luxury, but according to the FCC, broadband is America’s greatest infrastructure challenge of the early twenty-first century -- and though it may seem like an “unnecessary luxury” to some (probably those who don’t go without high-speed Internet), the FCC has statistics to prove that our lack of connectivity in this country is actually holding back its citizens and the development of our nation.
Not only do most jobs now require Internet skills, but the number of Americans using high-speed Internet at work grew by 50 percent in just four years, and the number of jobs in information and communications technology is growing 50 percent faster than other sectors. Despite these growing numbers, millions of Americans lack the necessary skills to use the Internet because the areas in which they live simply do not provide broadband or are incapable of offering it.
What’s even more troubling is the FCC’s belief that not implementing their National Broadband Plan will cause America to miss an opportunity to improve itself, thus causing it to fall behind other countries as a result. The FCC reported:
“There are significant gaps in the utilization of broadband for national priorities. In nearly every metric used to measure the adoption of health information technology (IT), the United States ranks in the bottom half among comparable countries, yet electronic health records could alone save more than $500 billion over 15 years. Much of the electric grid is not connected to broadband, even though a Smart Grid could prevent 360 million metric tons of carbon emissions per year by 2030, equivalent to taking 65 million of today’s cars off the road. Online courses can dramatically reduce the time required to learn a subject while greatly increasing course completion rates, yet only 16 percent of public community colleges— which have seen a surge in enrollment—have high-speed connections comparable to our research universities. Nearly ten years after 9/11, our first responders still require access to better communications.”
For many Americans, the fact that so many (100 million) individuals were without high-speed Internet was sure to be surprising, but these facts revealed by the FCC are even more eye-opening.
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