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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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January 13, 2009 9:13 AM

Obama Supports Deploying Fiber As Economic Stimulus!

OK, I'll be honest: this title's a little misleading. I've never actually heard the word "fiber" come out of our new president's mouth.

But when you consider what he's been saying about broadband it's hard not to infer that he strongly supports the notion of a Full Fiber Nation being our ultimate goal and that deploying fiber can stimulate the economy in both the short and long term.

Let's take a look at some of his relevant quotes:

"[The stimulus] means expanding broadband lines across America, so that a small business in a rural town can connect and compete with its counterparts anywhere in the world."
If a small business in a rural town really wants to compete in the 21st century global economy, 20th century broadband won't cut it. They need fiber just to get into the game as that's what everyone else in the world is rapidly gaining access to. Anything less will leave us at a competitive disadvantage. And since I don't think Obama's one to accept mediocrity, I read this statement as a sign he understands why fiber is so important to our long-term economic future.

"...laying down miles of new broadband lines..."
He's used this turn of phrase frequently. The only new wireline infrastructure that we should be laying down new lines for is fiber; it's now cheaper to build and operate while affording infinitely more capacity than copper, so any actually laying of new copper in the ground would be foolish. Additionally this suggests Obama's understanding that laying new fiber lines requires a lot of jobs to be created just like rebuilding roads and bridges.

"...a 21st century healthcare, education, and workforce..."
This is not to say 20th century broadband has no value, but instead that the only truly 21st century broadband infrastructure is full fiber networks. Whether it be schools, hospitals, businesses, and beyond, they can't afford to be constrained by the lack of robust connectivity any longer, and only fiber completely removes the shackles of the era of bandwidth scarcity and introduces one of bandwidth abundance.

"...a downpayment on our economic future..."
There's no better description of what full fiber networks represent. Sure they're expensive to deploy, but can we really put a price on insuring the continued viability of our economy for the next hundred years? As I've said before, do we regret the time and expense it took to lay a copper telephone line to every last home a century ago?

Unfortunately, while the deployment of fiber aligns perfectly with Obama's goals, he has yet to come out publicly in support of fiber specifically rather than broadband generally.

Hopefully this is just a case of playing politics, of not wanting to rock the boat with established interests, and that Obama does understand the urgent need for us to set clear national goals focused on installing a fully fiber-based telecommunications infrastructure.

As his team releases their plan for broadband in the economic stimulus package we'll be able to clearly see if they're going to live up to his promise of transformational rather than incremental change.

Ever the optimist, I can't help but keep hope alive. Yes we can!

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