National Broadband Plan
Broadband is the great infrastructure challenge of the early 21st century.
Like electricity a century ago, broadband is a foundation for economic growth, job creation, global competitiveness and a better way of life. It is enabling entire new industries and unlocking vast new possibilities for existing ones. It is changing how we educate children, deliver health care, manage energy, ensure public safety, engage government, and access, organize and disseminate knowledge.
Fueled primarily by private sector investment and innovation, the American broadband ecosystem has evolved rapidly. The number of Americans who have broadband at home has grown from eight million in 2000 to nearly 200 million last year. Increasingly capable fixed and mobile networks allow Americans to access a growing number of valuable applications through innovative devices.
But broadband in America is not all it needs to be. Approximately 100 million Americans do not have broadband at home. Broadband-enabled health information technology (IT) can improve care and lower costs by hundreds of billions of dollars in the coming decades, yet the United States is behind many advanced countries in the adoption of such technology. Broadband can provide teachers with tools that allow students to learn the same course material in half the time, but there is a dearth of easily accessible digital educational content required for such opportunities. A broadband-enabled Smart Grid could increase energy independence and efficiency, but much of the data required to capture these benefits are inaccessible to consumers, businesses and entrepreneurs. And nearly a decade after 9/11, our first responders still lack a nationwide public safety mobile broadband communications network, even though such a network could improve emergency response and homeland security.