Federal Communications Commission

Connecting America’s Stories: Investing in Intelligent Infrastructure

June 28th, 2010 by Page Schindler Buchanan

In order to provide our country with the broadband access it demands we need to build our infrastructure.  The National Broadband Plan looked at ways that local, state and federal governments could make changes that would fundamentally change how our nation’s infrastructure is built.

Of all of the stories we got from you, the most common complaint was that broadband lines just weren’t reaching your homes and businesses.  By engaging communities, governments and citizens in the effort, we can change that.

This video discusses the possibilities that smart infrastructure planning can have for communities today and in the future.

Thomas Koutsky, Senior Advisor for the Network Deployment Team on the National Broadband Task Force

You wouldn’t build a road in a city today without thinking about storm water drainage and sewers.  The same thing should be true for broadband.  We need to get to the place in this country when somebody’s building a road they are thinking about the broadband needs and demands of today and the future, for the community that that road serves. 

Vic in Rogersville, Alabama

I live in a semi-rural area of northwest Alabama. DSL via a telephone line is the only broadband Internet that I have access to. I am at the end of the DSL service area and those beyond me, which is most of the people in our area, only have dial-up. Indeed, getting a clear dial-tone is considered a minor miracle around here. We have no other option for broadband. There is no cable company, or any other company, that serves our rural area.

The plan talks about the very practical possibility that schools and community centers can serve as anchor institutions, helping surrounding customers by enabling broadband access.  Tom Kousky explains:

It’s very easy to get in back of the principle of ‘let’s connect a school to the internet.’ But to recognize that in the process of doing that, you could really drive down the cost of connecting the neighboring business…  Getting communities to think about the shared broadband destiny that they have: To utilize institutions such as community colleges, libraries, community centers, really as launching off points for bringing fiber optic connectivity deeper into communities and then leveraging that so that surrounding businesses and consumers can actually use them and experience higher broadband availability as a result.

Penny in Cambria, California

I live in a semi rural area but luckily live fairly close to a large university which enables to me to have fast internet - my job demands that I pay a premium of $80.00 a month to have 25mbs download and 3mbs upload. I am the exception in my area. Once you go inland 2-3 miles from where I live no internet access is available except through a telephone line.

I have seen first-hand how this has effected our town and our children. Most of the children are semi-computer illiterate. The children have seen one at school but have not had the opportunity to really grasp the technology. These kids are at a huge disadvantage compared to other industrialized nations that not only have broadband for all but have super fast connections.

Businesses without connections feel the pain deeply too.

Catherine in North Sutton, New Hampshire

I run a small hospitality business (we own a bed & breakfast) and it is absolutely essential that I have internet accessibility. People prefer to book "online" or ask questions through email. My concern is that rural areas such as ours are overlooked. Our ISP is terrible--sometimes we are without connection for days. There is no one else to go to. I have been told it is a "capacity" issue in our area.  My concern is that because of the cost of infrastructure changes and the fact that we are a small community, they are just not doing anything about it. I know I am losing business when I can't respond to a client inquiry. I know I am losing business when a guest at our establishment can't access the internet. I know I am losing business when I am unable to make a reservation because I can't "connect" to the internet.

A task force of local, state, federal and tribal governments to address how to make changes in the way infrastructure is approached across the nation is a part of the plan’s recommendations.  Check out the Broadband Action Agenda for next steps that are being taken and other recommendations for building broadband infrastructure.

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