The headline from the announcement of President Trump’s National Security Strategy is that it focused on economics. That’s true, and it’s also gratifying that the document acknowledges the importance of a strong and secure broadband network as a critical part of our economic and national security.
The report states that “Improvements in bandwidth, better broadband connectivity, and protection from persistent cyberattacks are needed to support America’s future growth. Economic and personal transactions are dependent upon the ‘.com world,’ and wealth creation depends on a reliable, secure Internet.” As more and more economic activity happens online, affecting every industry, broadband itself has now become a critical national infrastructure that undergirds growth throughout the economy and ensures America preserves its competitive edge against other countries that seek to dominate increasingly global markets. It’s simply no longer possible to think of “infrastructure” just as bricks and mortar, buildings and roads. Important as those things are, the broadband Internet is now part of our national infrastructure and is an important national asset vital to our economic growth. Better broadband connectivity makes people-to-people and business-to-business connections easier and more reliable and of course also strengthens the communications networks vital to national defense.
Best of all, unlike most roads, ports, airports, or other physical parts of our national infrastructure, the networks that support America’s broadband infrastructure are virtually all built and owned by the private sector. Thanks to hundreds of billions of dollars in private investment – and wise policies that help make that investment a reality – our entire nation reaps the benefit without cost to taxpayers.
What’s next? The Administration laudably asserts that it “will improve America’s digital infrastructure by deploying a secure 5G Internet capability nationwide. These improvements will increase national competitiveness, benefit the environment, and improve our quality of life.” By adopting next generation 5G mobile broadband quickly, America is poised to lead in the next transformation in the broadband Internet, our networks will remain global leaders, and Internet businesses will prosper in the years ahead.
In a sharply competitive world, we must always be vigilant lest we lose our technological advantage to our economic and strategic competitors. Kudos to the Administration for recognizing how deeply broadband, and particularly the coming 5G wireless networks, are intertwined with our national security.