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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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December 10, 2008 11:04 AM

At Least 10% of Infrastructure Stimulus Should Be On Fiber

It's widely known that a sizable chunk of the upcoming economic stimulus package will be alloted to building out and bolstering America's sagging and lagging infrastructure. And everyone acknowledges that "broadband" should and almost certainly will be a part of this. But how big a part should it be?

Should it get higher priority than building new roads? Deploying fiber networks does create higher quality jobs than roads, both in building and using them. It really comes down to this: do you want to be building the interstate highway system of the 21st century or just laying more asphalt and promoting driving?

What about building up our green infrastructure? Until everyone's online we should devote as much attention to wiring America as we do greening it. No single technology has the potential to help reduce our reliance on fossil fuels more than fiber.

Aren't there lots of old infrastructure that needs to be replaced and upgraded? Absolutely and there always will be, but if we're trying to stimulate the economy I'm willing to bet any money you'll get more value out of fiber than you do plumbing. Though you can save a lot of money if you do both at the same time.

This is not to denigrate the value of investing in roads, establishing the green economy, or upgrading old infrastructure; those all need to be done as well. Instead it's an attempt to highlight the relative value of investing in fiber as a part of any large-scale infrastructure improvement project.

And I do think it has to be fiber specifically rather than broadband generally if we're talking about this investment in the context of infrastructure. It was a message I first heard while from Joanne Hovis, head of Columbia Telecommunications Corporation, while lunching a few weeks ago.

She said it quite plainly: only fiber equals infrastructure. And this is true both short-term in that fiber deployment creates more jobs than any other broadband installation and the long-term in how it has the capacity to last at least a hundred years whereas all other broadband technologies have known limitations. Also, once you have fiber, things like wireless are easy to do.

I point this out not to devalue other access options but to frame why government spending on infrastructure should be in fiber.

Now back to the question of how many of those infrastructure stimulus dollars should be spent on fiber.

Given how well the outcomes of deploying of fiber fit in with the stated goals of this upcoming economic stimulus package, I can't see how we could responsibly allocate less than 10% whatever's put into infrastructure to laying fiber.

One number I've seen tossed around is $150 billion of the $500 billion overall economic stimulus package will be going to infrastructure. If that proves true that'd mean $15 billion should turn into fiber.

As I've been arguing for and am working on establishing a working group to support the creation of, I strongly believe that $10 billion of this money should go towards the Rural Fiber Fund with the goal of wiring all of rural America with fiber.

As for the other $5 billion, I think what'd be most beneficial is to create a fiber czar that would have the job of identifying where all the regional and local public fiber networks are across the country and use this money to get them interconnected with each other, wherever possible extending them to schools, libraries, and other public buildings.

What do you all think? Is there a better way we could spend $15 billion on fiber?

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Comments (2)


Another reason is that people are stealing copper out of the network infrastructure. Why replace it and put in countermeasures when it would be easier to spend that money to upgrade to fiber?

See article:

Posted by JAMES CARLINI on December 13, 2008 6:35 AM

You are right on target! With a fiber optic infrastructure upgrade, the bandwidth options are limitless, and so are the possibilities. Not only would cities, schools and other facilities benefit, but hospitals as well. Think of how much information could be shared in a life saving situation if all had access and were linked to the same medical library, with doctors sharing information on a high level medical diagnosis.

Posted by Steve Haas on December 15, 2008 8:05 AM

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