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Building Our Nation's Broadband Future

Feb 01, 2017, by John Morabito
Tags: Executive Insights, Policy Issues, External Relations

Internet2 Recommends Broadband Infrastructure Proposals for the New Administration

The research and education (R&E) community has amassed decades of experience in the creation and development of the internet and, working hand in hand with the private sector, it continues to propel the evolution of this vital technology.  As the country’s premier national R&E network (NREN), Internet2, and the larger R&E community, stands ready to help deploy and upgrade truly world-class infrastructure nationwide, and not just in select pockets of the country.  To address the pending broadband challenges facing the United States, Internet2 has identified four essential proposals for the new Administration to consider as it develops and refines its national infrastructure and broadband strategy, which are clarified in a white paper that Internet2 has just released.

The first recommendation is that the Administration should support construction of more broadband networks as part of any infrastructure program.  More and faster broadband networks will promote economic development, ensure that anchor institutions have the necessary connections to the rest of the nation, and better prepare students and adult learners for the information economy.  The economic benefits of broadband infrastructure are well documented.  Studies show that a 10 percent increase in broadband penetration can lead to a 1.5 percent increase in economic growth, as measured by GDP (http://www.ieb.ub.edu/files/Cave_2.pdf).  Additionally, the Brookings Institution estimated that a one percentage point increase in broadband penetration would lead to an increase of about 300,000 jobs for the U.S. economy as a whole (https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/06labor_crandall.pdf). 

Internet2 also recommends that the Administration should utilize public-private partnerships to help fund broadband construction.  The Administration should focus on increasing collaborative investments by building on the success of recent public-private partnerships to fund broadband infrastructure projects.  Partnerships between R&E networks and commercial telecommunications carriers have allowed schools, libraries, and other anchor institutions to cost effectively access R&E networks’ shared infrastructure while increasing revenue and lowering administrative costs for those commercial partners. 

In addition to domestic broadband concerns, the Administration should provide strategic leadership in supporting a rationally engineered global broadband infrastructure.  In order to maintain and build on its technological and economic position, the U.S. must continue to lead in broadband deployment and adoption globally.  Therefore, it will be important for the Administration to prioritize U.S. involvement in global networking initiatives and support public-private efforts to construct connections between continents to link NRENs in a more robust, cohesive, and future-proof manner.  This not only serves the nation’s interests, but it will ensure that the R&E community has the capacity to tackle the most challenging research activities. 

The construction of new broadband infrastructure in the U.S. and abroad increases the need for enhanced protections.  Therefore, the Administration should promote trust and identity access management frameworks to better safeguard critical research from cyber attacks.  As it moves away from federally funded and performed research, the Federal Government essentially has outsourced a large amount of R&D activities to universities and colleges.  Enhancing trust and identity access management is critical for academics and researchers to maintain the ability to securely create and collaborate on potentially sensitive projects, as well as maintain online privacy protections.  The Administration should direct the Federal Government to support initiatives that promote a comprehensive trust and identity strategy for higher education in order to protect their R&D activities, which the U.S. depends on, using the best practices developed by the R&E networking community.  

Internet2, and the broader R&E networking community, looks forward to working with the next Administration as it develops its national broadband strategy.  Internet2 remains committed to furthering the efforts of the R&E community to propel the next generations of advanced networking and empower new economic opportunities in the U.S. and throughout the world. 

1 comments

  • Great article. I think leased line costs should be covered too.