≡ Menu

Is John Chambers right about broadband?

Rounding the corner behind the Hyatt Cinemas in Burlingame on my morning run, I hit a slick metal plate and took a spill.  I got up, and continued running with a nasty pavement uppercut, and bruises to my knees, hands and left shoulder.  And there, ahead of me, a brilliant rainbow lit by the early morning sun made me forget the pain I was in.

As I ran on, I thought of John Chamber’s comments published yesterday on GigaOm.  Chambers is calling for funding for broadband in the US bail-out package.  He, as many others have, compares national broadband to the interstate highway system. Positioning broadband as a national infrastructure priority, he sees it as a key ingredient in the US economic recovery.

The US economy has taken an unexpected and nasty spill, just as I did this morning.  Unlike my situation, however, it’s a little more difficult for the economy to pick itself up and run ahead toward the rainbow.  And unfortunately, there aren’t easy answers like broadband.  If I was a US congressman, I might question whether an investment in broadband might provide the same economic impetus as an investment in education or healthcare.  I might take the position that building a strong, educated and healthy workforce should be first priority.

But I’m not a US congressman.  I’m just a bruised runner, limping toward a rainbow.

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • PaulSweeney March 4, 2009, 9:48 am

    I heard that "Unlimited Broadband Packages" were the "Sub Prime of Telecoms"….

  • Peter Childs March 4, 2009, 3:17 pm

    Over the long term you’re right – investing in education and health care will have a more significant significant impact on the US economy than investing in broadband.

    But the time frame to have an impact is significantly longer than enhancing broadband and the costs are far far higher too.

    Investing in broadband is investing business infastructure the same way that roads (or even a competitive tax system) is an investment in business infastructure. It’s hard not to think that rural Broad band will help rural businesses become more competitive, could be instrumental in opening markets and thereby expanding employment.

    Broadband can also help the environment – reducing the requirment to commute – if linked to programs to address some to the social issues around “tele-working”, and broadening the pool of available talent for companies already experienced with a distributed work force.

    The latter is also important to rural areas which can be attractive to older knowledge workers but cannot be considered without broadband access. A migration out of the cities to rural areas (however small) also helps the tax base of rural area.

    Given the cost, speed to impliment, and the impact broadband can have – especially on rural communities I think Chambers is on to something. I just with that someone else was promoting the idea – because of the optics.

Leave a Comment