Delivering high-speed Internet access has been a make- or-break challenge. Just ask the failed Internet service providers. In the past few months, even some of the large telephone companies have curtailed plans to expand broadband lines.
What's the problem?
The Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) says it's a supply-side, rather than a demand-side problem. Yes, there are problems in provisioning broadband, but the trade association maintains the biggest obstacle is stimulating demand. The trade group, based in Arlington, Va., has initiated a "Positively Broadband' campaign it hopes will ultimately result in a road map for stimulating demand among consumers and various organizations for high-speed Internet access.
ITAA president Harris N. Miller recently wrote a federal agency looking into broadband problems: "Broadband service, in fact, is available to more than 70 percent of U.S. households, but the take-up rate among consumers stands at approximately 11 percent. While telecommunications supply-side issues have dominated the debate for lawmakers and other interested parties, as a society we are in danger of missing the bigger picture. If we want to take the Internet and, ultimately, the U.S. economy to the next level, we are going to have to give consumers better reasons for purchasing broadband service.'
The ITAA has more than 500 members, including players such as AT&T, IBM and Oracle.
As part of its campaign, the group is organizing a conference in Washington, D.C., to bring together a range of organizations and industries that can come up with a plan to incorporate broadband technology into the delivery of products and services, according to Bob Cohen, an ITAA spokesperson.
The issues and solutions are wide-ranging. For instance, what about applications like distance learning or professional development? And how can broadband be used to deliver medical services?
The ITAA's initiative also touches on other key issues, such as the danger of government favoring one broadband technology over another.