Broadband is increasingly playing a central role in the lives of Americans. Job searches, education, entertainment, health care services, business ventures – those with access to reliable, high-speed broadband gain tremendous opportunities in almost every facet of life.
The Obama Administration has made expanding broadband access and adoption a top priority. While we have made good progress, more work needs to be done. In March 2015, President Obama established the Broadband Opportunity Council and tasked it with producing recommendations to increase broadband deployment, competition and adoption through executive actions.
In the Broadband Opportunity Council’s ensuing report, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) committed to developing a National Broadband Research Agenda to help shape the future of broadband by outlining a strategic plan for research into promising new technologies and applications, as well as promoting federal coordination in data collection practices and policies.
Of course, there is already ongoing research in important areas related to broadband. For example, NTIA, in conjunction with the U.S. Census Bureau, has for the last two decades surveyed Americans about their computer and Internet use, including reasons why some households do not use the Internet. Studies like NTIA’s own Digital Nation reports, among many others, help shed light on the digital divide and other important policy challenges. With the National Broadband Research Agenda, we aim to identify new opportunities for cutting-edge research and analysis, and pathways to foster a collaborative research environment that includes stakeholders both within and outside of government.
Today, NTIA and NSF are requesting public comments that will inform the National Broadband Research Agenda. The public’s input will help to improve data collection, analysis and research for the benefit of broadband policy development, program implementation and program evaluation.
We are seeking input in four areas:
- Broadband technology
- Broadband access and adoption
- Socioeconomic impacts
- Opportunities for federal leadership
Some of the questions we’re asking are: What research proposals regarding broadband access should be prioritized? How can cross-disciplinary collaboration in broadband research be enhanced? What is needed to understand how to reach population groups that have traditionally under-utilized broadband technology?
We encourage all who wish to advance broadband in America through new or improved research and data collection to weigh in. Those who want to provide input should submit comments to NBRArfc2016@ntia.doc.gov by Oct. 11.