Have you read the National Broadband Plan? If you're having trouble sleeping, it's available as a 376-page, 12MB PDF right here. And guess what? Unless someone stops planning for the broadband we should already have (and that other countries already do have) and starts hanging some fiber, it's not going to happen.
So why I am I writing about this in the Googling Google blog? Because Google is on the right track with their broadband beta, but given that they've received more than their share of nominations, I wouldn't be holding my breath that my community will be chosen. As PC Magazine reports,
Well, Google has finally reached the deadline for proposal submissions for its giant beta broadband test, and it's going to be quite a reviewing process to sort out the winners from the losers: more than 1,100 communities responded with proposals, and more than 194,000 individuals pitched a nomination in the hopes that their communities will receive access to Google's one-gigabit-per-second service.
Their goal of reaching 50,000-500,000 households will only scratch the surface of the demand represented by these nominations.
And given that Verizon has essentially stopped making further progress on its own fiber rollouts through its FIOS service, the National Broadband Plan should probably be renamed the National Broadband Pipedream.
I know that 10 years is a long time in technology-land. The E-rate changes built into the plan are also welcome and may be of assistance. However, there are areas of suburban Virginia near our nation's capital that even now struggle to get 1mbps DSL to the home. The telcos can't afford further expansion and a small-government backlash looks to be just around the corner, meaning that federal funding will probably not be forthcoming to really drive infrastructure expansion.
No, something truly drastic needs to happen if we'd like to see ubiquitous broadband in a timeframe that won't leave us further in the Internet dark ages than we already are. And by broadband I don't mean satellite or 768kbps DSL. I mean seamless streaming data everywhere. Frankly, the only thing that will make this happen is private industry either buying and lighting dark fiber or laying it themselves. Whether this is Google or local businesses (or even cooperatives), it doesn't matter, but it's going to be up to us to bring fiber everywhere it needs to be.
The other option (and I'm hoping that Google's Android push is a sign of good things to come) will be the expansion of mobile data services. If I can get 50mbps on my phone, do I care if I can't get a fiber connection to my home in West Virginia? The latest Android phones can already share their data connections as local hotspots. This, in fact, may be where the fastest broadband expansion will occur, driven by the potential for extraordinary mobile advertising revenue, the likes of which only Google knows how to tap.