Your Turn: Call for Broadband Action

Charles Benton

With people losing their jobs, their homes, their retirement, with the costs of health care and higher education continuing to rise above the ability of many Americans to pay, with global climate change threatening our world, why should high-speed Internet access be a priority? Because universal, affordable broadband is more than an end in itself; it is also a means to spur economic growth, boost the competitiveness of the United States in the global economy, and enable all our citizens to reach for the American Dream in the Digital Age.

On December 2, the Benton Foundation joined over 50 diverse organizations and corporations calling on President-elect Barack Obama and Congress to create a National Broadband Strategy (NBS.) Benton took the opportunity to release the Action Plan for America: Using Technology and Innovation to Address Our Nation's Critical Challenges. This report includes persuasive evidence that broadband is a catalyst for innovation, economic growth, job creation, educational opportunity and global competitiveness. It enhances public safety, homeland security, health care, energy efficiency, environmental sustainability and the worldwide distribution of millions of products, processes and services. It aids in revitalizing depressed urban and rural economies. It creates a vehicle for enhancing the level of civic participation and discourse so important to a functioning democracy. In short, it links this powerful new technology with our nation's basic needs.

President-elect Obama has now announced that building out broadband will be part of his impending economic stimulus package - the largest public works construction program since the inception of the interstate highway system a half century ago. The Benton Foundation applauds the President-elect's commitment to improving our information infrastructure. But that commitment to broadband deployment does not negate the need for a National Broadband Strategy. To the contrary, it makes it compelling for the new Obama Administration, immediately upon taking office, to take the lead in crafting a well-conceived and thoughtful NBS by January 1, 2010.

Now it is your turn. Will you ask President-elect Obama to get started on a National Broadband Strategy?

Benton's Action Plan calls upon President Obama to sign an Executive Order in the early days of his term to commit his Administration to drafting a National Broadband Strategy that will rapidly lead to universal deployment of robust and affordable broadband. We are asking President Obama to fulfill the promise of the America COMPETES Act, a bill co-sponsored by then-Senator Obama and then signed into law in 2007. Although swept under the rug by President Bush, key provisions of this law create a Presidential Council on Innovation and Competitiveness to address our country's need to promote excellence in technology, education and science. In the 21st century, there is no excellence in these fields without broadband access to the Internet, the most essential communications medium of our time.

Today, I ask you to let President-elect Obama know that you support our call. Here's how you can help. Please visit, the official web site of the Office of President-elect Obama, and leave your comments at the Technology Agenda. Please say that you support Benton's ACTION PLAN FOR AMERICA: Using Technology and Innovation to Address Our Nation's Critical Challenges and include a link to our report

Finally, if you do decide to weigh in with the Presidential Transition Team, please be so kind to drop me a note so we know you've voiced your support. Leave me a comment below or write me -- cbenton AT benton DOT org

By Charles Benton.