The White House today signed an executive order they claim
will make broadband construction in the country faster and cheaper, helping to "open up countless new opportunities for households and small businesses."
The first part of the order involves speeding up the installation of fiber along government roads and property property by ensuring all government agencies use the same process for build project approval. The order also requires the U.S. adopt a "dig once" approach to laying fiber, so that conduits are included as a mandatory part of new road construction.
That's something several lawmakers have been pushing for years
, trying -- but failing -- to pass laws imposing a "dig once" requirement. The White House claims that just these two initiatives will result in broadband builds on federal land being 90 percent cheaper and more efficient.
A more murky part of the government's proposal is a project called "US Ignite," a public-private collaboration aimed at helping app makers develop new uses for ultra-fast networks -- not unlike the existing Gig U effort
. The National Science Foundation will spearhead the effort, which will also see collaboration by Comcast, Verizon, army bases and municipal fiber operations like Utah's Utopia. The government's fact sheet
(pdf) explains their mission as such:
The US Ignite Partnership (us-ignite.org) is a new, independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a mission to catalyze 60 advanced, next-generation applications capable of operating on gigabit broadband networks over the next five years in six areas of national priority: education and workforce development, advanced manufacturing, health, transportation, public safety, and clean energy.
"Building a nationwide broadband network will strengthen our economy and put more Americans back to work," said President Obama. "By connecting every corner of our country to the digital age, we can help our businesses become more competitive, our students become more informed and our citizens become more engaged."
While these efforts may help make some connetivity headroads, the government continues to ignore the biggest reason for low quality service, slow speed, and high prices in the broadband market: a lack of real competition in the market. Most users are lucky to have the choice of one or two carriers, who simply look at one another and wink when it's time to raise rates. No competition meanwhile allows most of these companies to bend to investor pressure and skimp on next-generation upgrades whenever and wherever possible.