The following blog post is by Susan Diegelman, Director of Public Affairs for AT&T.
We recently marked the fourth anniversary of the National Broadband Plan, a roadmap created to bring broadband connectivity throughout the US. Connectivity is a necessary resource for everyone in this digital age, but many Americans continue to have difficulties obtaining access. Once we meet the plan’s stated goals, we will have increased the availability of affordable, high-speed broadband service in all areas of the country. Many of the Plan’s goals align with BlueGreen Alliance's Repair America objectives to modernize America’s infrastructure, and in so doing revitalize America’s economy and address pressing energy and climate challenges. We applaud the FCC, both on the Plan itself and on the progress made so far.
In the plan, the FCC characterized broadband deployment as "the great infrastructure challenge of the 21st century." Any American with broadband connectivity can access a wide variety of opportunities, from higher education to Internet entrepreneurship to telecommuting jobs. Broadband also delivers increased opportunities for convenient health care, civic engagement, educational enrichment, and social and professional networking, as well as easy access to news, information, and entertainment. But in addition to these benefits to individuals and communities, many people don't realize that increased access to enhanced broadband service can also help our planet. Advanced broadband technologies enable vital benefits for public safety and national security, and especially for our environment. Expanding access to modern broadband connectivity across the country will help create a cleaner, greener America and a more efficient and competitive economy.
Implementing policies that encourage the expansion of advanced high-speed broadband networks will promote safety and sustainability—enabling energy, water, and gas utilities to identify leaks, and monitor performance. In the transportation sector real time information is already helping individuals avoid and transportation systems reduce congestion and travel-related carbon emissions, while vehicle to vehicle communication will improve safety and efficiency of vehicle operations and design. Upgrading our old energy networks and transitioning to smart grid technologies – in energy generation, transmission, distribution, and in our homes—will help us will help us fight climate change by enabling new efficiency opportunities, and new ways to connect and use renewable energy, electric vehicles, and smart appliances. It will also help us make our energy systems and communities more resilient. Overall, advanced broadband and communication technologies can help jump-start a new era of healthier and greener economic development.
Since the adoption of the National Broadband Plan, the United States is closer to reaching many of its objectives, including several important speed and availability goals. The FCC has accomplished substantial progress in a short period of time, and we're confident that they will achieve even more going forward as long as the focus now shifts to designing rules that create the right environment for broadband to thrive and expand. Working to protect consumers while also adopting smart rules that encourage innovation and incentivize additional private investment will be vital to achieving those nationwide broadband connectivity goals.
On that front, exciting progress was recently made when the FCC approved the concept of broadband network beta trials, which would allow for real-world testing of these advanced all-broadband networks in limited geographic areas. These trials represent an opportunity for industry leaders, policymakers, and consumers to work together to identify the challenges of these new technologies and create solutions. So far, one major provider has stepped up with a proposal to do just that, and we hope that other carriers will soon get on board and help pave the way forward to a greener America.
With so much at stake, we encourage the FCC to continue down its path toward the right policies for broadband deployment. Only when our entire nation and all consumers can access broadband can we really reap the full benefits and rewards of energy efficiency and clean economic prosperity.