Sunday, August 01, 2010

Internet access is the new dial tone, but millions of Americans are disconnected

Three years ago, then-U.S. Federal Communications Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein called on the nation to make broadband "the dial-tone of the 21st Century."

Adelstein's characterization is correct. Today, the Internet is the telecommunications network. Those who don't have access to it are disconnected and isolated.

The Huffington Post has posted a summary of Akamai Technologies' State of the Internet" report for the first quarter of 2010 showing which states are the most offline. (Hat tip to Jason Wilson) It wouldn't surprise me if these states find it toughest to help boost the nation out of a deep economic contraction, being sidelined in an increasingly Internet-based economy.

The governors of these (and other) states should ask the Obama administration to create a Work Projects Administration-like entity to embark on a crash program to construct locally owned and operated fiber networks to serve all Americans where they live and work. Achieving this goal is a stated administration policy. Moreover, given the administration's projected multiplier effect of a project like this in terms of job creation and economic activity, it could well end up being revenue neutral when increased tax revenues are factored in.

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