I recorded a commentary today for KQED–NPR in the Bay Area–on the importance of the National Broadband Plan. In the wake of tumult over net neutrality, Title II, and other regulatory gibberish, the important goals of the NBP, published in March of 2010, have been lost. That’s unfortunate, because the authors did a great job of setting out ambitious goals essential to maintain U.S. competitiveness. The plan also relies for funding on private investment and incentives, giving it a realistic chance of success.
While recent polls indicate that few Americans want the government involved in encouraging adoption of broadband, I believe this is one example where intervention–if only of the cheerleading and goal-setting variety–is appropriate. As I’ve written extensively elsewhere, the Internet’s success is a function of network effects, as succinctly described by Metcalfe’s Law. The more people who have broadband access, the more valuable the network is for everyone. And the better the chances for serendipitous new uses and applications to flourish.
Those of us who already have broadband access, in other words, would benefit just as much from getting non-users online as those users themselves.
Perhaps even more.