National Broadband Plan is vital to future net vitality

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[Commentary] Eight years ago today, the US National Broadband Plan was released, as mandated by a law that received bipartisan support in Congress. That plan is rooted in a critical understanding of ongoing, dynamic forces that continue to shape what is commonly known as the broadband internet ecosystem. Its three pillars — broadband applications/content, devices, and networks — are essential parts that need to work seamlessly together so that all of us can experience the full benefits of the Internet in every aspect of our daily lives. So how has the United States fared since announcing this comprehensive blueprint for Internet development in 2010?

My research study just published by the Telecommunications Research and Policy Institute, Net Vitality 2.0: Identifying the Top-Tier Global Broadband internet Ecosystem Leaders revisits a pioneering research approach first developed in 2010, which highlights countries that are leading on a global basis in their deployment and use of broadband applications and content; devices; and networks. As in 2015, the United States (along with the United Kingdom) remains in this top tier. South Korea, Japan, and France have been replaced in the current front ranks by China, Germany, and Canada (listed by population size).

My research shows the original concept of a broadband internet ecosystem embodied in the National Broadband Plan remains both relevant and a very worthy goal for our country to continue. But rather than rest on laurels gained in recent years, the US should move even more assertively here, since the possibility of being overtaken by more aggressive countries in this realm (think China) looms in a clearly global competitive field.

[Stuart Brotman is the inaugural Howard Distinguished Endowed Professor of Media Management and Law and Beaman Professor of Communication and Information at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.]

National Broadband Plan is vital to future net vitality