While building a green economy is often discussed as a distinct goal from investing in broadband or overcoming the growing digital divide in our society, new communication technologies are actually a critical part of making our energy-hungry economy more sustainable and energy-efficient.
Deploying broadband and related communication technologies, including
smart meters in the home and smart grids to upgrade our power grid,
have the potential of revolutionizing energy management and economic
development, according to a new report by the Progressive States Network released in association with our partners, Communications Workers of America, the Sierra Club and the Blue Green Alliance. Last
Thursday, leaders from those organizations convened at a panel on
Capitol Hill, hosted by U.S. Representative Edward Markey, Chairman
of the U.S. House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global
Warming, and joined by Nick Sinai, Director of Energy and Environment
for the FCC's Broadband Strategy Plan, to discuss the findings of the
report entitled Networking the Green Economy
This Dispatch highlights the trends in the initial grants
when it comes to mapping, deployment and adoption broadband, outline
broadband policies that states have been pursuing (using federal and
state funding), and why these broadband investments are so critical to
the long-term economy of our states.
With the passage of HB 1701 the Washington State legislature once again demonstrated its understandingthat when combating the digital divide states must not just addressaccess issues, but must also focus on dealing with the barriers to broadband adoption by individuals.
Congress has passed — and President Bush has signed — the Broadband Data Improvement Act. The Act, which had been pushed by Senate Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and supported by a coalition of organizations, such as the Communications Workers of America,has as its explicit purpose "to improve the quality of Federal and State data regarding the availability and quality of broadband servicesand to promote the deployment of affordable broadband services to allparts of the Nation."
Today, a major digital divide exists between thosewho have access to high-speed Internet and those who lack access and/ or thecapability to use, high-speed Internet. Too many Americans, especially those inrural areas or low-income households do not have any Internet access, let alone high-speed Internet access. Mapping high-speed Internet availability andadoption, and making that information accessible to the public is an important tool for legislators and local planning groups that wish to evaluate thecurrent status of their states’ high-speed Internet infrastructure and utilization. Such information iskey when determining where to dedicate future resources when developingdeployment strategies.