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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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February 5, 2008 10:52 AM

The Problem with the Bush Administration's Broadband Report

Last week the Bush Administration released a report entitled "Networked Nation: Broadband in America 2007" that highlights what it sees as the results of its successful national broadband strategy.

While it's been widely lambasted as overly optimistic and completely ignorant of America's falling position in international broadband rankings, that's not what I see as being its most significant shortcoming.

That honor goes to its utterly milquetoast attitude towards broadband.

When I think "national broadband strategy" I don't think "how can we be adequate" or "how can we do just enough to get by".

What I want to see is some aspirational goals, a national broadband strategy that says "here's where we are, but here's where we could be going", a national broadband strategy that doesn't stop at claiming to know what's enough but instead strives to be all that it can be.

If anyone or anything wants to claim the mantle of being a national broadband strategy, it has to start from the perspective of what does it want to achieve.

For me that begins with a few straightforward goals:

- Broadband to everyone.
- Everyone to broadband.
- Broadband as an ever-increasing standard.

Broadband to everyone means 100% availability. It means that every man, woman, and child can access broadband from their homes and businesses.

Everyone to broadband means 100% of people being aware of what broadband can do for them and wanting to incorporate its use more in their day to day lives.

And broadband as an ever-increasing standard means we all come to the understanding that the more capacity in the networks the more we can do with it, and that even if we don't know how this additional capacity will be used tomorrow, that we should still be doing everything we can today to realize ever higher speeds.

Based on these three basic principles, according to my scorecard we're still a long ways away from being able to proclaim "Mission Accomplished".

Even though broadband is available most places, we're still not at 100%, even if you count satellite as broadband. We're getting close, but we must acknowledge that there are some significant challenges ahead to fill in those last remaining holds in our country's broadband coverage.

Quite frankly, we're a helluva long ways away from everyone using broadband. Only recently have we passed 50% of homes subscribed to broadband, and I'd argue that most of those homes really aren't making the most out of what broadband can deliver. Getting everyone online isn't going to be easy as there will continue to be many who don't see a need for it, but the more people we can get online the more powerful the Internet becomes as a tool for affecting real societal change.

And don't get me started on the lack of expansion in the definition of broadband. The FCC is still stuck in neutral at 200Kbps in one direction as the definition, and there continues to be in-fighting about how much bandwidth we'll ultimately need. This is why I've taken the general position that more is better, and that we can not accurately say how much is too much, so instead let's focus on getting as much as we possibly can.

But just because we're a ways away from accomplishing these goals doesn't mean that we shouldn't aspire to them.

If we want America to continue to be great in the 21st century, we can't waste time patting ourselves on the back about how far we've come when we need to instead be marshaling all of our resources to tackle the goal of how can we aspire to be better.

And as I've stated before, this isn't just a matter of beating other countries. All we need to do is continuously work on trying to better than we were yesterday and are today.

If we can only understand and agree on the basic premise that our deployment and use of broadband is in its infancy and that by nurturing its growth we can revolutionize society, then perhaps we can recapture that American spirit to strive tirelessly towards a better tomorrow powered by broadband.


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