The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published a grand plan Tuesday to drastically improve access to high-speed broadband Internet in the U.S. The FCC wants important institutions, like universities and hospitals, to use the Internet more.
According to the plan – which has to be approved by Congress – better broadband is vital for the U.S. to stay on the cutting edge in areas like business, communication, health care and education.
“We should be the leading exporter of broadband technology – high-value goods and services that drive enduring economic growth and job creation,” the plan says. “A high-performance America cannot stand by as other countries charge into the digital era.”
While fast, affordable Internet for all is a noble goal, the FCC’s broadband plan will be expensive and may threaten existing broadcast and broadband companies.
Gary Bachula, vice president for external relations at Internet2 – the high-speed networking consortium for colleges and universities – said to the Chronicle of Higher Education that the FCC may call for a stronger network to connect all “anchor institutions” like college and hospitals.
Connecting institutions may improve efficiency but will compromise security. Many hospital patients will not want their private medical information stored or sent over the Internet.
The FCC wants to take more control over the Internet business like the government did with banks and the automotive industry. The difference here is that Internet providers are not struggling or on the verge of collapse. The broadband industry is booming as more people rely on the Internet for news and entertainment.
The FCC seems to be acting on a perceived lack of competitiveness and speed. The plan points to other countries with broadband plans like South Korea, Japan, Sweden and Finland that may be outpacing the U.S.
To catch up, the plan sets an ambitious goal of providing 100 million U.S. households with Internet speeds of 100 megabits per second by 2020. The current average speed is only four megabits per second.
Are Americans so unsatisfied with their Internet speeds that the government sees an urgent need to step in and make it 25 times faster rather than leaving progress up to private businesses?
“I’m not sure anybody cares,” Maribel Lopez, founder and principal analyst at Lopez Research, said to the E-Commerce Times. “I don’t hear this huge uproar from the populace saying they’re going to need more bandwidth.”
According to the plan, the bill will either be funded by taxpayers’ dollars or by a fee imposed on all broadband users.
Americans should not have to pay for something many of them neither need nor want. The government should stay out of the Internet provider business.