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The Future of American Broadband

The FCC’s National Broadband Plan and its Effects

If you’re an avid reader of Tom’s Guide and Tom’s Hardware, chances are you’re already hooked into a broadband internet connection of some sort, whether that’s  Cable or DSL in the home or a mobile broadband network like AT&T or Verizon. This isn’t much of a surprise, since roughly 200 million people (two-thirds of the American population), have broadband internet coming into their homes. Consumer broadband has existed for the better part of two decades. Because of that, the FCC thinks--and rightfully so--that this number is pretty low for a country that wants to be at the forefront of technology at all times.

As of June 2009, America ranked 20th in household broadband penetration, at 60 percent. This put the US well behind countries like the UK (67%), Canada (76%), and South Korea (95%). The low broadband numbers in the US affect more people than just Joe consumer, too; Health care and public education are also suffering greatly due to a lack of deep broadband coverage. Now that medical records are digital, you need a broadband infrastructure that can properly support communication between doctors, hospitals, and patients. And while most schools are connected to the Internet, connections in most public schools aren’t nearly as robust as they should be. Furthermore, many schools are still without some form of wireless connectivity, so computers are still chained to desks in the computer lab or library.

In early 2009, the FCC was tasked by Congress with creating a National Broadband Plan, one that would not only ensure broadband access to all citizens, but one that would change several key aspects of infrastructure throughout the country. The National Broadband Plan, or NBP, looks to take broadband to another level in the United States, ensuring lightning-fast connectivity for those who want or desperately need it.