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The Broadband Challenge

NOTE: The following is an abbreviated version of Dan Bobinski's newspaper column, The Broadband Challenge.
You can read the full column here

A recent article by Ned Desmond, president of Business2.0 magazine, suggests that the U.S. Government underwrite the costs of getting the nation’s homes connected to the Internet through broadband access.

I’d always thought of Internet access as a service we must buy for our own personal and business use. Yet, like the nation’s interstate system, the “information superhighway” is a large part of what makes business happen. It is integral to our country’s productivity.

TeleNomic Research out of Virginia estimates that more than 1.2 million new jobs would be created if 55 million households had broadband service. The Brookings Institute says such a change would be worth $500 billion in economic growth.

Like anything else, if broadband costs were lower, more people would use it. It’s sort of like Amtrak, where if the government didn’t subsidize it, it would be too costly to use. The difference with broadband is that people want to use it and it brings a much higher return on investment. Another benefit? It isn’t going to derail anytime soon.

When we consider that the U.S. Government already subsidizes local telephone service $30 billion a year and our nation’s highway system $330 billion a year – both of which add tremendously to our ability to conduct business – $6 to $10 billion for broadband will reap great rewards in terms of increasing our gross domestic product.

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