In remarks delivered Tuesday rebutting the Republican economic agenda presented by House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), Vice President Joe Biden proclaimed the Obama Administration’s investment in broadband as “a down payment on the U.S. competitive position in the still-emerging industries of the future.”
Commenting on the importance of investment in innovation as a means of encouraging economic recovery, Biden claimed a limited role for the federal government in “provid[ing] the seeds,” but noted that “it’s the private sector that makes them grow.” Accordingly, Vice President Biden noted that,
Thanks to $7 billion in Recovery Act investments, bringing $3 billion in private capital off the sidelines, approximately 2 million rural American households – and tens of thousands of community institutions – will have better access to broadband….A smart utility grid. Universal broadband. These are the foundation upon which innovative businesses can be built here in the U.S. – able to open their doors anywhere, and prosper everywhere. And that’s really what this is about – giving American entrepreneurs the tools to do what they do best.
During his remarks, the Vice President released his report on the impact of the stimulus in transforming the economy through innovation. One of the major themes of this four-pronged report is “building a platform for private sector innovation through investments in broadband, Smart Grid, and health information technology.”
The report revealed the tremendous impact that private sector investment in innovation has had on rapidly advancing America’s broadband ecosystem.
The ten largest network service providers have annual capital investments in excess of $50 billion. The results of these investments are impressive: in 2000, only eight million Americans had broadband at home; by 2009, that number had grown to 200 million.
While there is yet opportunity for increased growth in deploying broadband to the 100 million Americans who remain offline, African Americans in particular have seemingly developed a new appreciation for the benefits of broadband. As noted in a recent Pew Study, 56% of African Americans now maintain a home broadband connection. Despite economic recession in recent years, African Americans are the only demographic group to experience a 22% increase in year-over-year growth in broadband adoption.
With continued efforts by the federal government to foster environments conducive to private sector investment in innovation, broadband adoption by African Americans in 2010 may provide an example for similar growth by other critical populations in years to come. The result: America’s attainment of universal broadband access and adoption by 2020 – a goal promoted by President Obama and echoed by the Federal Communications Commission in rendering its National Broadband Plan.