Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Increased Broadband Will Spur American Innovation

Innovation has been the cornerstone of American success since the founding of our country. The American drive for innovation has consistently led to the development of new technologies to reduce costs and improve productivity. From Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb to Henry Ford’s mass production lines to the Internet, Americans pushed the envelope of innovation.

The Internet especially has fueled innovations that have the ability to touch every Americans’ life. Ten years ago staying in touch with friends and families meant either making a phone call through a land line or writing a letter, but today, through broadband Internet, staying in touch means a 2-way video chat on your smart phone or on Skype. Social networking used to be something you did at community gatherings, picnics and parties, but today close to 50 percent of Americans are members of at least one online social network where they can share updates, photos and chat with friends.

In this video, Jamal Simmons, Co-Chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance, gives further proof of why expanded broadband coverage is needed. From starting your own business to conducting research for educational purposes, expanded broadband access will open up incredible economic opportunities for Americans.

In education the benefits of broadband can best be shown by John Schwartz, a fourth and fifth grade teacher in Oceanside, CA. Schwartz uses blogging as a tool to help ESL students develop their language and writing skills. In addition to improving their English language skills, Schwartz says that his students’ “creativity and productivity skyrocketed because they knew that their work had the potential to be viewed quickly by an authentic audience that mattered to them.”

Healthcare is another area where broadband access is redefining how Americans manage their day-to-day lives. According to the Internet Innovation Alliance, telemedicine, the provision of healthcare through internet and phone services, is credited with increasing health care access and quality, while reducing health care costs and saving lives. From wireless x-ray machines to smart phone apps that remind you to take your medication, broadband can ensure a healthier America tomorrow.

The only catch to the benefits of broadband internet is that you have to have access to broadband. That catch helps us recognize the potential of the proposed AT&T and T-Mobile merger, which would bring 4G LTE coverage to over 97 percent of Americans. If the merger is approved, it is currently being reviewed by the Federal Communications Commission; it would mean that more Americans will have access to all the benefits of wireless than ever before. With greater access to broadband Americans can continue the strong tradition of innovation that has set us apart from the rest of the world.

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