Bruce P. Mehlman
The Internet Innovation Alliance is a broad-based coalition of business and non-profit organizations that aim to ensure every American, regardless of race, income or geography, has access to the critical tool that is broadband Internet. The IIA seeks to promote public policies that support equal opportunity for universal broadband availability and adoption so that everyone, everywhere can seize the benefits of the Internet - from education to health care, employment to community building, civic engagement and beyond.
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$250 million of the $7.2 billion allocated for broadband stimulus money is set aside specifically for broadband adoption.
Forty percent of broadband nonadopters are from communities of color.
Gartner Research projects that global information technology spending will total $3.2 trillion in 2009, a decline of roughly 4% from the $3.3 trillion spent on IT in 2008.
Hardware, the firm says, will be the hardest hit and will experience a 15% decline in spending this year (2009).
A 7% increase in broadband penetration in underserved parts of the country could stimulate the economy by more than $134 billion.
According to a Telecommunications Industry Association report, despite the expectation of broadband stimulus funds from the federal government in the coming months, US spending on access equipment should fall 27% this year and keep declining for the next two years before springing back to growth.
The Obama administration’s health technology plan, which is part of the economic recovery package, includes incentive payments for adopting electronic health records — more than $40,000 per physician and up to several million dollars for hospitals.
“National economic-stimulus packages include large capital investments for broadband, including the U.S., France and others.
The stimulus packages total 15-20 percent of global gross domestic product.” [Herbert Heitmann, SAP’s chief communications officer, speaking as chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce Commission on e-Business, IT and Telecoms]
A study by Connected Nation, a non-profit broadband lobbying group, estimates that 173,000 jobs could be created in Texas alone by extending high-speed connections across the state.
It thus would make no sense to attach speed prerequisites [to broadband funding programs established by Congress in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)] beyond, for example, a maximum information transfer rate of at least 3 Mbps downstream and 768 kbps upstream.
One important distinction between how the USDA and the NTIA will distribute funds is that USDA grants require 75% of the area served by an approved project to be a “rural” area without sufficient broadband.
The NTIA, meanwhile, will address both “unserved” and “underserved” areas, though the government hasn’t yet defined those terms and is seeking public comment now on how to do that.