Broadband Won't Save Us
Friday, June 5, 2020
Broadband Won't Save Us
You’re reading the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society’s Weekly Digest, a recap of the biggest (or most overlooked) broadband stories of the week. The digest is delivered via e-mail each Friday.
Round-Up for the Week of June 1-5, 2020
Broadband Won't Save Us is decidedly not the kind of headline I write (or try to slip past my boss) very often. But recent events have me thinking about the "& Society" part of the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society.
I have been fortunate enough to be affiliated with Benton for nearly 25 years (some may think of me as just a bad penny). And based on my experience I can say that as much as my colleagues and I devote our days to universal, affordable, open, High-Performance Broadband, we ain't really selling broadband. Our aim is really about two other words: opportunity and community.
We believe (and I can show you the tattoos to prove it) that communications policy—rooted in the values of access, equity, and diversity—has the power to deliver new opportunities and strengthen communities to bridge our divides.
We don't believe that broadband educates children. We do believe that broadband facilitates vital connections between students and teachers, especially during this time when so many schools are shuttered.
We don't believe broadband makes you healthy. We do believe that broadband makes telehealth possible, ensuring that people can connect with their doctors even when they are separated by great distances.
We don't believe broadband makes you money. We do believe it is a great engine for economic opportunity.
We do believe in connections.
And we believe all of us need affordable access if we are to move forward together.
As Benton Senior Fellow Jonathan Sallet told me in an interview last Fall:
Students’ ability to learn will depend not just on the bandwidth that reaches their schools but also on how well they can connect to their schoolwork when they are outside their school buildings.
The future of agriculture is now rooted in broadband. When broadband-enabled precision technologies are pervasively deployed, they are predicted to cut water use by up to 30 percent, reduce herbicide use by 99.99 percent, reduce fuel use by 10 percent, boost yields by 70 percent, and cut food prices in half.
Broadband is part of our response to climate change. Broadband-enabled technologies have the potential to make the smart grid even smarter, renewable power more prevalent, everyday devices more efficient, and energy more affordable. Ubiquitous access to High-Performance Broadband can help us reduce overall net electricity demand by more than 25 percent, cut greenhouse gas emissions by 19 percent, save billions on our energy bills, help make us more energy independent, and enable a smarter electric grid that is more efficient, reliable, and resilient.
High-Performance Broadband can help solve some of healthcare’s most enduring problems and intractable challenges: delivering massive cost-saving opportunities to slow runaway health-care cost growth, enabling patients to harness a new generation of connected-care devices that help patients live longer and more productive lives, and extending connected care everywhere, closing the rural health-care gap.
High-Performance Broadband isn’t the silver bullet for our greatest challenges, but it is the communications infrastructure over which solutions to those challenges will be delivered.
Broadband is not the silver bullet to end the COVID-19 pandemic, but more universal access could have helped millions in the U.S. alone make an easier transition to sheltering in place.
Broadband is not the silver bullet to cure the unrest in communities around the country, but more universal access could help address the deep inequities in our society that are at the root of the cause.
Broadband won't save us. But it is the tool that facilities the connections that will help us save each other.
- Of course technology perpetuates racism. It was designed that way. (MIT Technology Review)
- Commissioner Starks Statement On Nationwide Protests and Social Change (FCC)
- Chairman Pai on Local Broadcasters Covering Recent Protests & Violence (FCC)
- Tech companies say they support racial justice. Their actions raise questions. (Los Angeles Times)
- AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson calls for other CEOs to advocate for racial justice (CNBC)
Weekend Reads (resist tl;dr)
- Digital Denied: The Impact of Systemic Racial Discrimination on Home-Internet Adoption (Free Press)
- AT&T's Digital Redlining (NDIA)
- Electronic Redlining: Racism on the Information Superhighway? (Katharine Sharp Review)
- Racism Is In The Air: The FCC's Mandate To Protect Minorities From Getting Shortchanged (ComLaw Conspectus)
- The Role of Telecommunications in Hate Crimes (National Telecommunications and Information Administration)
ICYMI from Benton
- Want to solve America’s problems? Start with broadband (Adrianne Benton Furniss)
- Inclusion and Civic Engagement in Public Technology Building and Planning (Denise Linn Riedl)
- Intersection of Race and Telecomm Policy: Andrew Schwartzman (Kevin Taglang)
- Intersection of Race and Telecomm Policy: Media Power in Wrong Hands Brings Neither "Peace of Mind nor Serenity of Spirit" (Kevin Taglang)
- Broadband Subscriptions Are Up...But What's Behind the Numbers? (Kevin Taglang)
June 9 -- June 2020 Open Federal Communications Commission Meeting (FCC)
June 9 -- Stand with the Facts: Big Tech and the fight against misinformation (KUOW)
June 10 -- Disinformation, Digital Hate, and Big Media (NetGain Partnership)
June 15 -- 2.5 GHz: An Opportunity to Exercise Your Tribal Authority (Merit Network)
June 17 -- Measure the Digital Divide (National Telecommunications and Information Administration)
The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all people in the U.S. have access to competitive, High-Performance Broadband regardless of where they live or who they are. We believe communication policy - rooted in the values of access, equity, and diversity - has the power to deliver new opportunities and strengthen communities.
© Benton Institute for Broadband & Society 2020. Redistribution of this email publication - both internally and externally - is encouraged if it includes this copyright statement.
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