Building the Broadband Superhighway

Mark Marich

Most of the current proposals related to economic stimulus call for major investments in broadband, but how do you make these investments in a way that not only provides a short-term stimulus but also generates major long-term benefits for the economy and society. A recent report from the New America Foundation offers some guidelines.

The study advocates a “fiber to the community” approach with a focus on serving all communities. How do we get there? The authors suggest requiring that Washington mandate the installation of high capacity fiber along all Federal highway projects. Because ninety percent of all Americans reside within five miles of a National Highway System road, this step would help make a major leap in providing broadband to underserved areas. While the costs of this plan are significant (anywhere from $1.2 to $3.6 billion over five years), the authors contend that their proposal will be cheaper than other alternatives, which would face higher costs due to land acquisition, construction costs, and rights-of-way disputes. Most of these challenges have already been resolved on Federal highway projects.

“Building a 21st Century Broadband Superhighway,”
is authored by Benjamin Lennett and Sascha Meinrath.

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