The promise of a connected world carries with it the expectation of unprecedented access to business, education and economic value. And as more users from more areas of the globe come onto the global network, that expectation remains on an indefinite rise upwards.
The United Nations once declared broadband access a human right. Yet, today millions of Americans still lack consistent access to high-speed connectivity. That gap could exist due to the fact the universal rollout of broadband involves a complex fabric of regulatory, technological and business issues—and it starts with first defining what it means to have “broadband access.”
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), that definition is centered on speed. Connection speeds of at least 25 megabits downstream, and three megabits per second upstream, to be precise. But defining the term based solely on the notion speed—in a time where speeds change at a rapid pace—simply doesn’t cut it. Instead, it is more about the infrastructure that supports the applications that allow the next generation network to thrive. And that infrastructure must be developed in an efficient and sustainable manner; and in a way that makes smart usage of vital resources that not only fit today’s consumer needs, but those in the future.
That involves deploying fiber, building out the data centers and investing in the cloud infrastructure and virtualization technologies that allow this high-speed bandwidth to be fully utilized. All of this is incumbent upon the telecommunications ecosystem to work collaboratively to invest the appropriate resources.
Government regulators play a strong role in making those resources available. One such example is the FCC’s Connect America Fund. Phase two auctions aim to bring broadband to upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in what are considered to be “unserved” areas of the country. The plan involves ensuring carriers are providing services to the level of support of funding. It calls for making $2 billion available to expand access to broadband Internet in rural areas over the next decade.
To help, the FCC has made available a broadband map to help direct legislation and appropriations for federal funding of deployment. This map shows many rural parts of the country are being underserved. In response, some carriers are calling for the FCC to adopt standards for speed tests to ensure what they are recommending is realistic when comparing rural and urban areas.
When rolling out broadband, many disparate pieces must come together in order to ensure the connection is delivered to the consumer in the most reliable and sufficient manner. From aggregation equipment, to fiber networks to fixed line connections, the investment in the infrastructure is the most critical piece to ensuring a fully realized future for broadband.
TIA offers resources to keep pace on issues related to broadband infrastructure through working groups, training opportunities, business networking, videos and services.