Thursday, February 12, 2009

Why Broadband Is Now Critical Infrastructure

Google's take on broadband provisions in the economic stimulus package:

4 comments:

Jeff Yager said...

Isn't this like the Big Three auto guys advocating building more roads? Take it with a grain of salt.

Christopher Patton said...

I think it's more like building roads and the electrical grid. Yes, Google, stands to benefit, but so do all other companies as they use the Internet as a utility to empower them to grow their businesses. And, as is the case with developing roads and the power grid, there are numerous collective action problems that make government involvement hard to avoid.

Jeff Yager said...

Right, I guess I wasn't dismissing the plan outright. It's just always good to recognize who stands to benefit. Nobody disputes that the interstate highway system was a great infrastructure addition, but the car industry definitely stood to benefit. What if they had decided to build a huge railroad network instead? What happens if a different technology ( possibly satellite communication to reach remote areas) improves in 10 years and it turns out the investment in broadband was for naught?

Christopher Patton said...

Of course we should attempt to have government infrastructure spending allocated toward projects that will do the most to benefit to the economy overall as opposed to favoring particular businesses that happen to be major political donors. Thus, your comment about the difficulty of allocating resources among various infrastructure options is well-taken. But given the potential of the Internet to fuel growth throughout the private sector, I think it's well worth our investment. Even if a better technology comes along in 10 years, we will still have benefited from having robust nationwide broadband infrastructure in the meantime.