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Housing Secretary Donovan Compares National Broadband Plan to Interstate Highway System

in FCC/National Broadband Plan by

WASHINGTON, March 10, 2010 – Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan on Tuesday compared broadband expansion in the United States to the development of the interstate highway system under President Eisenhower, speaking at the Knight Center for Digital Inclusion.

Also speaking at the event was Federal Communications Commissioner Chairman Julius Genachowski, who addressed the various impacts of broadband on the wider economy and the need for expansion in order to spur innovation. Genachowski also commented on the fact that the United States has fallen behind on key metrics; once number two globally, the United States has fallen to a distant 15 in connectivity.

As for Donovan, he said that access to the Internet is crucial for citizens economic growth.

“We see our work as fundamentally a gateway to opportunity” by giving citizens access to the internet they are able to expand their knowledge and find new and better opportunities, he said. The largest limiting factors for the non-adopters who have access are cost of access (both of a computer and internet service) and digital literacy.

A recent study by the FCC appears to confirm this, and highlights the fact that high costs is one of the key reasons why individuals do not subscribe to internet access.

Donovan urged the government to work across departments, and with public and private organizations, to help connect all Americans.

Commissioners Meredith Attwell Baker and Mignon Clyburn also spoke about the need for providing access to those Americans who cannot obtain access.

Commissioner Michael Copps made the most poignant comments, stating that “broadband access should be a civic right. Access denied is opportunity denied." He also said that the future town square would be paved with broadband bricks.

Also speaking at the conference was Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb. Terry highlighted the need for reforming the Universal Service Fund. The broadband plan is a good first step, he said, but increased reform is necessary to truly help those who rely on the USF to obtain high-speed internet access.

Rahul Gaitonde has been writing for since the fall of 2009, and in May of 2010 he became Deputy Editor. He was a fellow at George Mason University’s Long Term Governance Project, a researcher at the International Center for Applied Studies in Information Technology and worked at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. He holds a Masters of Public Policy from George Mason University, where his research focused on the economic and social benefits of broadband expansion. He has written extensively about Universal Service Fund reform, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and the Broadband Data Improvement Act


  1. Nokia Siemens Networks’ Press Release on February 15, 2010 States” Mobile data from smart devices to increase 10,000 percent by 2015.” The Engine of Economic Growth in the 21st Century is “BROADBAND.”

    Whether you are a Democrat, a Republican, or an Independent, we must used some of the Stimulus Funds, to BUILD Smart/Intelligent INFRASTRUCTURE SERVICES for: Healthcare IT, Broadband, Smart Transportation Systems, and Smart Grids. This Investment will Enabled New Jobs Creation and Economic Recovery.

    BROADBAND- We can start by, Deploying a pure Packet-based, All Optical/IP, Multi-Service National “TRANSPORT” Network Infrastructure, using Optical Ethernet throughout this National “NETWORK OF NETWORKS.” This will Connect All Optical Islands, Nationwide.

    The Investmentin this National “Network of Networks”, in addition to New Jobs Creation and Economic Recovery, can also Server as a BUSINESS DRIVER for: e-Commerce, e-Education, e-Healthcare, Energy Systems, Transportation Systems, Social Networking, Entertainment, etc.

    As stated above, this type of Investment is, like the Investments in the past in: ERA, TVA, and the National Transportation Inter-State Highways, which increased Productivity and our GDP.

    Please See: for NHIN Summary Deployment Plan.

    Gadema K. Quoquoi
    President & CEO

  2. Given the poor condition of many of our interstate highways, I hope the plans for broadband will include some means of maintaining and improving it as it ages rather than just allowing it to decay.

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