There has been some very good news lately about U.S. leadership in communications technologies. Recently, news broke that the U.S. is now leading the world in deploying the next generation of broadband networks, after years of lagging behind. And earlier this week, FCC Chairman Genachowski delivered a speech in which he identified a key goal for our country: to achieve a strategic bandwidth advantage, which will help the U.S. secure and maintain a position of leadership in the global bandwidth race.
Chairman Genachowski should be applauded for identifying this goal and for defining it as “fast, high-capacity, ubiquitous broadband.” He is correct to point out that securing this advantage will bring tremendous benefits, particularly in terms of economic growth and security, as well as more opportunities for people from all walks of life. Increased access to high-speed broadband can help us assure equal opportunities for everyone, which is why we have contended that “widespread broadband connectivity must be a top civil rights concern of the 21st century.”
Seizing this advantage and securing our leadership role in the global economy will result in new innovations and opportunities that will improve our lives and ensure a more prosperous future for our country. For individuals and families—in particular for those who are currently unconnected, as about half of African American and Hispanic households are—the results will be empowering. If Chairman Genachowski’s goal of attaining the strategic bandwidth advantage is met, widespread access to ultra-fast broadband will allow each and every person equal opportunity to participate in the digital revolution.
In practical terms, the “strategic bandwidth advantage” is all about the Internet transformation, or the transition to an all-IP infrastructure. Accelerating this transformation is key to establishing ourselves as global leaders and for closing our nation’s digital divide. The focus must remain on the modernization of our infrastructure so that we can all enjoy the benefits of next-generation networks.
At its core, the Internet transformation is really about modernizing and improving our nation’s networks and looking to the future. IP transformation will bring about the benefits that Chairman Genachowski outlined in his speech—more opportunities benefitting more people, increased private investment in our economy, new innovations enhancing our lives, and continued U.S. leadership in the communications technology sector.
To make sure that all consumers and businesses have the services, speeds, and applications that they need to succeed, we need advanced, next-generation high speed networks to support these services. The Internet transformation will result in 21st century networks that deliver innovations in health care and education, as well as job growth and new opportunities, be they educational or medical. This transformation is an opportunity for our nation to realize the benefits of progress and technology.
Chairman Genachowski’s message is a positive one: We are a “world leader in mobile innovation.” This is indeed good news. However, to remain a world leader and to ensure that each American has equal opportunities, we must speed the transformation to an all-IP infrastructure. To achieve this we need smart government policies that encourage investment and a regulatory structure suited to 21st century technology. Chairman Genachowski also called for everyone to work together. He’s right: Modernizing our networks and achieving the Internet transformation will help us meet tomorrow’s challenges, but it will require cooperation from all sides.
David Honig is MMTC’s President and Executive Director. He co-founded the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC) in 1986. MMTC has represented over 70 minority, civil rights and religious national organizations in selected proceedings before the FCC, and it operates the nation’s only full service, minority owned media and telecom brokerage.