Appendix A: A Broadband Action Plan

I. A National Broadband Strategy

Starting on his first day in office, the new President should declare that the deployment of universal, affordable, and robust broadband Internet access to every American household is one of his Administration's top priorities. He should begin by leading the formation of a National Broadband Strategy.

  1. On January 20, 2009, his first day in office, the new President of the United States should sign an Executive Order that gives high priority to exerting federal leadership on broadband policy. This Order should:
    1. Establish a National Broadband Strategy Commission, composed of members from the public, private, academic, nonprofit, and other sectors, that by January 1, 2010 should deliver to the President an ambitious, yet achievable, comprehensive National Broadband Strategy to deploy robust, affordable broadband to every household in America. The Commission should also lay out a roadmap and timetable to deploy within five years to the vast majority of American households modernized broadband networks that are as robust, reliable, and affordable as those of our global competitors.
    2. Appoint a White House-based Chief Technology Officer to work in conjunction with the Commission. The Chief Technology Officer (CTO) should take responsibility for the successful design and execution of the NBS throughout the public sector.
    3. Direct the Commission to include measurable deployment and subscribership goals in the NBS. The NBS developed by the Commission should set goals on broadband network deployment, subscribership, price, and speed. At a minimum, these goals should include:
      1. By the end of 2010, every household in America will have access to robust and affordable broadband.
      2. By the end of 2015, the vast majority of American households will have affordable access to modernized broadband networks that are as robust as those of any other nation.
    4. Direct the Commission to propose broadband initiatives and applications that address the most pressing challenges facing our nation. As we've discussed, the demand for robust and affordable broadband will grow significantly if America utilizes broadband to:
      1. Modernize our economy to compete globally;
      2. Reduce energy consumption and carbon dioxide gas emissions and address the threats that energy insecurity and environmental degradation pose to our nation;
      3. Deliver better health care at lower costs by implementing telehealth and digital health information technology;
      4. Improve education through the use of advanced online technology tools;
      5. Build a 21st-century public safety and national security telecommunications system; and
      6. Increase government transparency and empower greater citizen participation in decision making.
    5. Establish a cabinet-level interagency task force to execute the NBS throughout executive branch departments and agencies. Modeled on the Information Infrastructure Task Force, this task force should be made up of highlevel representatives of federal agencies, including the Office of Management and Budget, in coordination with the CTO. The agencies should develop comprehensive plans and policies to quickly and effectively execute the NBS, including interagency efforts that will cut across bureaucratic silos and stovepipes.
    6. Direct the OMB to issue an annual report on the status of the execution of the National Broadband Strategy, with recommendations for additional steps and funding to ensure that the NBS realizes its goals.
  2. The President should immediately on taking office promote policies to stimulate both demand for, and supply of, robust and affordable broadband, including:
    1. Direct the heads of all federal departments and agencies to take specific action to:
      1. Ensure that affordable, robust broadband is available to all Americans;
      2. Include the use of broadband in meeting the mission of their agency;
      3. Cooperate with the National Broadband Strategy Commission, make the implementation of the NBS one of its highest priorities, and prepare action plans on initiatives their agencies are undertaking to help achieve the goals of the NBS; and
      4. Report annually to the President on the progress of these initiatives.
    2. Direct the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to create a national online broadband mapping system that will aggregate useful and highly granular data on the nationwide availability, speed, and price of broadband;
    3. Open underutilized spectrum currently reserved for both public and private use for a new generation of wireless devices that will provide robust broadband service over great distances and rough terrain without interference to existing licensed uses;
    4. Support and co-fund state and municipal broadband initiatives to encourage the build-out and support of next-generation broadband networks. Eliminate state and local impediments to state-, municipal-, and community- funded deployment of broadband.
    5. Support deployment of broadband to underserved communities and populations.
      1. Modernize the federal Universal Service Program to support affordable, universal, landline, and wireless broadband,153 as well as the Rural Utility Broadband Loan and Loan Guarantee Program, Community Connect Broadband Grants Program, and similar programs to emphasize the build-out of next-generation broadband networks in rural areas.
      2. Stimulate the supply of broadband in low-income communities by requiring as a condition for receipt of federal funding that public housing and other public buildings have robust broadband access available to all residents and tenants.
      3. Initiate and expand programs to extend broadband to persons with disabilities, seniors, minorities, Native Americans, and other populations that are too often on the wrong side of the digital divide.
      4. Restore funding for the Technology Opportunities Program that will help develop transforming broadband applications to address the most significant and pressing challenges facing our society.
    6. Stimulate private sector investment in robust broadband.
      1. Accelerate depreciation of broadband equipment and tax credits for significant upgrades to existing network capacity.
      2. Issue federal "Broadband Bonds" to finance, in partnership with private entities, deployment in un- and under-served areas, as recommended in California by that state's Broadband Task Force.154
      3. Anchor Tenancy: Direct the General Services Administration's Public Buildings Service to assess anchor tenancy opportunities as a part of every agency's process to negotiate or renegotiate a telecommunications lease. Anchor tenancy can act as a catalyst, drawing providers to locations that have little or no access to broadband. By Executive Order, the President could require that agencies assess whether anchor tenancy could draw private providers to a surrounding unserved community or upgrade existing network infrastructure, if no other plans exist to do so.
      4. Collocation Facilities: Direct the General Services Administration's Public Buildings Service to offer, at cost, in un- or under-served areas, small spaces on federally-owned properties on which collocation facilities can be constructed. This will both reduce one of the cost barriers and also create "carrier neutral" facilities into which companies can connect with both regional networks and other networks that connect to major Internet connection points in metropolitan areas.
    7. Support open access to the Internet for all users, service providers, content providers, and application providers to the maximum extent possible, while recognizing that network operators must have the right to manage their networks responsibly, pursuant to clear and workable guidelines and standards.
    8. Support federal leadership to eliminate issues and concerns that deter citizens from accessing the Internet. Promote online safety, privacy, and network security. Strongly enforce laws against online criminals, spammers, promoters of frauds, and other illegal actors.

II. Job Creation And Economic Development

To help create jobs and stimulate U.S. economic growth, the President should:

  1. Fully fund the America COMPETES Act including the National Science Foundation grant program for institutions of higher education that award associate degrees to recruit and train individuals from the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math to mentor female, minority, and disabled students in order to assist such students in identifying, qualifying for, and entering higher-paying technical jobs in those fields.
  2. Set a national skills agenda to compete globally and to ensure a rising standard of living for Americans.
  3. Implement provisions of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 aimed at extending broadband's reach into rural areas:
    1. Budget $25 million per year from 2009-2012 for loans and loan guarantees for the construction, improvement, and acquisition of facilities and equipment for the provision of broadband service in rural areas;
    2. Establish the National Center for Rural Telecommunications Assessment to assess the effectiveness of Department of Agriculture programs aimed at increasing broadband availability and use in rural areas;
    3. Direct the Secretary of Agriculture and the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission submit a report to Congress in June 2009 (and every three years thereafter) a report describing a comprehensive rural broadband strategy that includes:
      1. These recommendations:
        • Promote interagency coordination of federal agencies in regard to policies, procedures, and targeted resources, and streamline or otherwise improve the policies, programs, and services;
        • Coordinate existing federal rural broadband or rural initiatives;
        • Address both short- and long-term needs assessments and solutions for a rapid build-out of rural broadband solutions and application of the recommendations for federal, state, regional, and local government policymakers; and
        • Identify how specific federal agency programs and resources can best respond to rural broadband requirements and overcome obstacles that currently impede rural broadband deployment.
      2. A description of goals and timeframes to achieve the purposes of the report.

III. Health Care

The new Administration should employ broadband to provide better quality health care and quality of life, at a significantly reduced cost.

  1. Direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to:
    1. Define and catalog the types of entities that govern, oversee, operate, and/or create policy for the electronic exchange of health information and produce recommendations regarding the appropriate level of consumer participation and requirements for transparency that should apply to them.
    2. Require institutions and providers to begin sharing health information electronically.
    3. Set standards for electronic exchange of health information; these standards should focus on:
      1. Quality improvement;
      2. Care management;
      3. Billing;
      4. Decision support;
      5. Performance data reporting; and
      6. Research and population health initiatives, including disparities reduction efforts.
    4. Set standards for federal health information security and confidentiality; standards that should be guided by the following consumer-control principles:
      1. Consumers should have easy access to review, add notations, and suggest corrections to existing information in their own records.
      2. Consumers should be able to limit which parts of their health information can be shared with which providers.
      3. Consumers should be able to limit how their personally identifiable medical information is used outside of care delivery (e.g., for research).
      4. Consumers should be able to easily designate others as proxies to act on their behalf (e.g., family member, caregiver, or guardian).
      5. Consumers deserve an effective process and infrastructure for monitoring and certifying compliance with these common principles among organizations, initiatives, and technologies.
    5. Encourage and facilitate the adoption of state reciprocity agreements for practitioner licensure to expedite the provision across state lines of telehealth services.
    6. Expand the list of Medicare telehealth originating sites to include mental health facilities.
    7. Include as a home health visit for Medicare purposes telehealth services furnished an individual by a home health agency.
    8. Establish a demonstration project to evaluate the impact and benefits of covering remote patient management services for certain chronic health conditions.
    9. i. Acting through the Director of the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth of the Health Resources and Services Administration, make grants to expand access via telehealth to health care services for individuals in medically underserved rural, frontier, and urban areas.
    10. Work with health plans, employers, HIT vendors, and others to create and maintain a centralized resource center of grants, loans, insurance savings opportunities, incentive programs, and other financing options for HIT for providers.
    11. Establish a consistent methodology for measuring telehealth and health information technology adoption and effective use, and analyzing and reporting data.
    12. Allow for electronic prescribing of controlled substances, with appropriate safeguards.
  2. Modernize Medicare to facilitate telehealth service:
    1. Remove Medicare's current geographic restrictions on the provision of telehealth services.
    2. Expand the types of facilities authorized to participate in the Medicare telehealth program.
    3. Allow for the provision of coverage of remote patient management services, including home health remote patient management services, for certain chronic health conditions.
  3. Reauthorize telehealth network and telehealth resource centers grant programs.
  4. Establish within the Department of Health and Human Services an Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and the Health Information Technology Resource Center to provide assistance for the adoption and use of interoperable health information technology.
  5. Allow the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to make federally qualified health centers eligible to participate in demonstration projects related to health records and heath information technology.
  6. Allow the Internal Revenue Code to treat qualified health care information technology as a depreciable asset.

IV. Education

The new Administration should infuse broadband and technology throughout America's education system and promote initiatives to advance online learning and digital excellence training.

  1. Expand and reform the E-Rate program. The E-Rate program has been extremely effective in its mission of bringing the Internet to America's schools and libraries. But too often, that Internet access is so slow as to be obsolete and may be available on only one computer per school. The E-Rate program should ultimately provide free broadband to all schools and libraries, as well as sufficient hardware and software for students to use it. Intermediate steps include lifting the E-Rate funding cap while simplifying its paperwork burden and bureaucratic complexity. E-Rate recipients should be allowed and encouraged to use E-Rate funds to create wireless broadband canopies that bring the school or library's broadband to the surrounding community. The program should support Internet broadband speeds of at least 10 Mbps per 1,000 students/staff, as recommended by the State Educational Technology Directors Association.155
  2. Create and fund the Digital Opportunity Investment Trust and expand the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) program. The Digital Opportunity Investment Trust will advance the high priority of bringing technology into the educational system, emphasizing the creation of educational content and software that incorporates the vast range of technologies available. It will also address the critical need to digitize and bring online the content of America's universities, museums, libraries, and other public institutions.156 The new Administration should also increase funding for the EETT program, designed to improve student achievement and boost students' digital literacy through the use of technology in schools.
  3. Provide one laptop per child and support ubiquitous computing. The new Administration should provide federal funding to school districts that implement a one-to-one laptop program for students in grades 6 through 12 and provide funding for teachers, students, and parents who receive training in technology-rich educational services and applications.157 It should also provide tax incentives and other support that encourage America's businesses to donate their old computers to economically disadvantaged families.
  4. Support state, municipal, and school district efforts to bring robust broadband to schools. One of the world's largest installations of wireless local area networks in production today has been constructed by the School District of Philadelphia, the eighth largest school district in the United States. It now provides wireless Internet access at every school in the district.158 As FCC Commissioner Michael Copps recently suggested,159 the federal government should facilitate the expansion of these broadband networks beyond the schools to the nearby communities, as was done in Livermore Valley, California.160
  5. Appropriate funding for the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies. The National Center will support a comprehensive research and development program to explore ways advanced computer and communication technologies can improve all levels of learning and "make learning more compelling, more personal, and more productive in our nation's schools."161
  6. Adopt action principles and goals formulated by top educators for all federal education programs.
    • Technology should be promoted to the greatest extent possible in every federal education program and initiative.
    • Standards for educational uses of technology that facilitate school improvement should be required, such as the National Educational Technology Standards developed by the International Society of Technology in Education.
    • Proficiency in 21st-century skills should be emphasized in education policies, as well as professional development programs that foster 21st-century teaching and learning.162
  7. Support categorical funding for online learning initiatives and digital excellence initiatives.

V. Energy and the Environment

The new Administration should use broadband technologies to meaningfully reduce energy consumption and improve environmental quality.

  1. Create a special government Energy, Environment, and Technology working group, under the leadership of the White House Chief Innovation [should this be Technology?]Officer, to break down the bureaucratic silos separating energy, environmental quality, and information technology regulators and experts, and bring them together to realize the promise that broadband and information technology can bring to our nation's challenges with energy scarcity and environmental degradation.
  2. Direct the U.S. General Services Administration, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and the White House Chief Technology Officer to, within 100 days,
    • Provide recommendations and assistance to all agency heads on ways to maximize voluntary telework without diminishing employee performance or agency operations, as well as ways to educate federal workers about the personal and social benefits of telework, including reduced energy usage, a healthier environment, and improved employee morale;
    • Establish and implement telework "best practices" for federal employees that will also serve as a model for adoption by state and local governments and the private sector;
    • Prescribe, in coordination with the Office of Management and Budget and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, regulations to ensure the adequacy of information and security protections for information and information systems used in, or otherwise affected by, teleworking; and
    • Maintain a central, publicly available telework website to be jointly controlled and funded by the General Services Administration and the Office of Personnel Management to inform federal employees of regulations, best practices, case studies, and other information relating to telework.
  3. Direct each federal agency to:
  4. Appoint a Telework Managing Officer who will:
    • Advise the agency head and Chief Human Capital Officer on telework;
    • Educate supervisors, managers, and employees about teleworking;
  5. Work with Congress and the Department of Energy (DOE) to appropriate funding for Smart Grid demonstration projects, such as those described but not funded in the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007. Real-world demonstrations will
    • Determine the technologies that provide the most benefit for the investment;
    • Provide the credible data needed by utilities and other investors to make the business case;
    • Assist regulators in creating a regulatory environment that enables utility, consumer, and societal benefits to be fairly recognized while enabling utilities and others to fairly recover their investments;
    • Educate consumers on the value of the technologies and their increased choices for electrical service; and
    • Enable the industry to move beyond the current impasse.163
  6. Direct the DOE to report on progress made on achieving the EISA's "national policy goal" of a nationwide Smart Grid and recommend additional steps necessary to reach the goal, such as adoption of a Smart Grid investment tax credit, demand reduction tax credit, accelerated depreciation, or other steps.
  7. Recommend additional ways for the federal government to accelerate the adoption of Smart Grid technology, including using its purchasing power in the electricity market and increasing its purchasing of electricity from renewable energy sources, as called for by the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

VI. Public Safety and Homeland Security

The new Administration should utilize broadband technologies to enhance public safety and protect homeland security.

  1. Undertake a national effort to build a national 21stcentury telecommunications system that will provide for public safety and homeland security similar to the effort undertaken 50 years ago to build our National Interstate and Defense Highway system. This effort should be guided by these overarching principles:
    • First responders should have a single, nationwide, robust broadband communications system with technology based on open standards and redundant and resilient connections.
    • All U.S. citizens should have access to emergency services and agencies using any device or mode commonly used in public communications.
    • The network should provide emergency responders and citizens access to the information they need, when, where, and how they need it. Specifically, this effort should include:
    • Ensuring that local, state, federal, and tribal statutes, regulations, and overall policies promote, rather than delay, the creation of this system;
    • Directing the Department of Homeland Security to mandate interoperable, broadband-based systems in all communications-related grants;164 and
    • Evaluating and, if effective, continuing the Public Safety Interoperable Communications Grant Program165 at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
  2. Convene a new blue-ribbon panel on emergency communications and information technology, such as that assembled by the U.S. National Science Foundation in 2003, to study the emergency telecommunications and IT systems and networks now operating across the nation. The panel should recommend to the Administration and Congress ways that those networks could be upgraded and supplemented to provide for the nation's public safety and the national defense in the 21st century.166
  3. Adopt the ComCARE E-Safety Program to enhance homeland security by helping bring 21st-century capabilities to emergency response, deploying integrated, interoperable, and interconnected wireline and wireless systems and applications.167
  4. Restore funding for the Tribal Rural Law Enforcement Internet Project.
  5. Direct FEMA to create a Disaster Relief Mobile Services Unit to provide advanced telecommunications services to areas where the existing infrastructure has been devastated by disaster.
  6. Appoint a national cyber security advisor to coordinate policy to secure information and information networks.
  7. Adopt the recommendations of the Joint Advisory Committee on Communications Capabilities of Emergency Medical and Public Health Care Facilities to overhaul and update the communications systems of EMS, 9-1-1, and public health facilities, based on these principles:
    • Encourage interoperable broadband networks.
    • Improve interoperability through better interagency coordination.
    • Enable consistent efforts through use of common standards and federal grant guidance coordination.
    • Advance capabilities through better network integration.
    • Ensure that first responders, health care personnel, and patients have ubiquitous access to broadband services and applications by fostering a regulatory environment in which private-sector companies build robust broadband networks and by providing targeted funding.168

VII. Reinvigorating Democracy and Government

The new Administration should promote digital inclusion of all citizens, and an efficient, open, and user-friendly egovernment interface that enables them to participate fully and knowledgeably in government decision making.

  1. Provide tax incentives for closing the Digital Divide:
    • Tax incentives for Americans who donate their old computers to economically disadvantaged families;
    • Tax credits or subsidies for free or low-cost broadband Internet access for low-income households; and
    • Tax incentives to businesses for digital training for their employees;
  2. Address digital literacy:
    • Require digital literacy training in all federal education and worker retraining programs; and
    • Support state and local digital literacy programs, and programs that aid access to the Internet for persons with disabilities.
  3. Mandate that all federal housing be wired for broadband. Simple access to Internet and broadband services significantly expands the public's options in terms of employment, education, communication, and access to information.
  4. Establish a National Youth Tech Corps to identify talented young people in technology and train them for community service projects in technology instruction and digital inclusion.
  5. Support the online "Public Internet Channel," now in beta at, to serve as a "one-stop shop" for citizens seeking information and assistance in the areas of jobs and training, health, education, civic participation, and emergency preparedness.
  6. Promote e-government programs that reduce costs and empower citizens to interact with their government online.
  7. Bring more government information online in open formats that enable the private sector to present it to citizens in innovative and effective ways, empowering greater citizen involvement in policymaking. Using web 2.0 tools to create more transparency and make government data equally accessible to all, citizens will be able to track federal grants, contracts, earmarks, and the lobbyist contacts of government officials using websites, wikis, blogs, social networking, and other tools.