Monday, February 27, 2017

Senate to Look at Infrastructure Challenges | Broadcasting & Cable

Senate to Look at Infrastructure Challenges | Broadcasting & Cable: The Senate Commerce Committee has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday, March 1, on the telecom and transportation infrastructure challenge. The Donald Trump Administration has pledged a trillion-dollar infrastructure upgrade, which is expected to include broadband infrastructure. In addition, there are legislative efforts to spur infrastructure buildouts, and FCC chairman Ajit Pai has backed making broadband part of that effort as well.

“With a national discussion on federal infrastructure investment underway, it’s worth remembering that many Americans live far away from the highest-ticket projects their tax dollars are asked to fund,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the committee, in announcing the hearing. “This hearing will look at how wise infrastructure investment decisions can ensure that all Americans benefit from improvements to national transportation and digital networks.”

It's great to see Sen. Thune recognizing that digital telecommunications infrastructure is also important 21st century infrastructure. Yes, 20th century transportation infrastructure is also need of investment. But it shouldn't come at the expense of telecom infrastructure that like roads and highways has also been neglected for decades.

Had proper planning and policies been put in place a generation ago as I write in my recent ebook Service Unavailable: America's Telecommunications Infrastructure Crisis, nearly all American homes, schools and businesses would have fiber optic connections by 2010 rather than relying on the failed investor owned corporate business model that has caught the nation up short. That leaves millions of Americans unable to access modern advanced telecommunications services or served by poor value and sluggish metallic connections that can't accommodate the growing bandwidth demand of today and tomorrow's digital economy.

The digital economy requires the capacity to handle the efficient movement of ideas, products and services just as 20th century transportation infrastructure did for people, goods and services. Telecom infrastructure thus should be properly regarded as interstate infrastructure as is transportation infrastructure.

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