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Geoff Daily

App-Rising.com covers the development and adoption of broadband applications, the deployment of and need for broadband networks, and the demands placed on policy to adapt to the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the Internet.

App-Rising.com is written by Geoff Daily, a DC-based technology journalist, broadband activist, marketing consultant, and Internet entrepreneur.

App-Rising.com is supported in part by AT&T;, however all views and opinions expressed herein are solely my own.

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October 30, 2008 10:47 AM

Sen. Obama - Why $15 Billion for GreenTech and None for Fiber?

Last night I took time to watch Sen. Obama's infomercial. While I generally enjoyed it something caught my attention during the last few minutes as it cut to live video of him addressing a crowd in Florida.

He was going on about laying broadband lines everywhere even citing the need to get these networks into rural areas so businesses can locate there. Then he paused slightly, and began saying, "$15 billion a year."

I sat up in my seat immediately somehow hoping beyond hope that he was committing himself to spending some serious money on upgrading our nation's telecommunications infrastructure. Only his next words showed that instead this was just his usual call for investing $15 billion a year for five years in green technology.

My first reaction was frustration. Yet again we have a politician who pays lip service to broadband who while he seems to get the economic development aspect of broadband hasn't yet put the pieces together regarding how broadband can help make us energy independent, improve our healthcare, expand our educational opportunities, and so on.

But then I found myself getting hopeful. While we haven't convinced everyone about the need for fiber, we have had great success in establishing the necessity of broadband. While we haven't gotten serious dollars committed to solving these problems, especially in rural areas, we've got another economic stimulus package coming down the pike, the FCC's about to attempt to revise USF, and we've got a president who at least claims to understand the urgent importance of getting our rural communities wired, so the money may soon be there.

It seems like now is the time that new ideas can be turned into action. Take this for example:

Instead of $15 billion a year for greentech, what if we said $20 billion a year for upgrading our 21st century technological infrastructure. We then split that in half, $10 billion a year for five years for greentech, and $10 billion a year for five years for fiber.

Or even better, why not $50 billion a year for five years, $25 billion each for greentech and fiber. That way from the fiber perspective you'd have enough to wire the entire country while likely also having some left over to help get people equipped and educated to use these networks. Plus on the greentech side we'd have enough money to not just develop new technologies but get them deployed, like giant solar farms, massive upgrades to our electrical distribution systems, and so on.

Now it may feel like I'm playing with Monopoly money here, but let's put this into perspective. I'm only talking about $250 billion. Contrast that against the $700 billion bailout. Are we really better off funneling hundreds of billions of dollars into banks that'll be used for them to buy other banks and become bigger? Or should we invest that money into securing America's future and bringing our technological infrastructures into the 21st century?

I think you all know my answer to this. I can only hope that whoever becomes our next president agrees.

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