Today I get to sit on a panel for one of those workshops the FCC is conducting to help define national broadband strategy. It’s nice to be invited, get to see the wheels of government turn up close and personal. I was inspired to write my thoughts on these workshops yesterday. Let’s see how I feel tomorrow.
But for today, I hope to make some key points about how broadband adoption can help small businesses, my assigned topic for this particular workshop.
To me, how well your broadband network improves and advances your local businesses determines the success of your economic development impact and also your ability to sustain the network you build. Once these businesses have broadband access, they can:
- open markets nationally and internationally, whether they sell products or services
- sell a greater array of products and services locally, which further expands sales as well as betters the quality of life of local residents; and
- improves overall business operations such as inventory management, marketing communications and advancing employees professional development
Of course, for any of this to happen the national broadband strategy has to be developed mainly from a heavy emphasis on identifying the needs of small businesses, particularly in a small town or rural community. For example, anyone who is really serious about using broadband as an economic development tool would never set a definition of broadband as 760 kbs. But alas, we witness the effect of practical business and technology capabilities and practices trumped by politics and lobbyist.
So today’s workshop is going to be a pretty good indicator of what we can expect as the national broadband strategy takes shape. Who’s going to be the winners and losers? What will be the practical results of successful implementation of this strategy? Will there be any real creativity at the table, or the usual taking heads? And ultimately, will this feedback-generating, fact-finding process get out into the underserved areas where the people who have the greatest broadband needs really live? More importantly, will anyone really act in a way that truly benefits these constituents?