Senator Durbin (D-IL) is going to host a series of online discussions about the lack of a national broadband strategy. I would ask the question from the other direction, do we need a national broadband strategy?
It strikes me that the U.S. technology industry has been most successful when the Federal government steps aside. Furthermore, it’s dangerous to just accept that "we are falling behind" in broadband when it’s hard to point to any concrete examples of where technology adoption rates are a cause for U.S. performance lagging.
For example, Durbin points to broadband adoption rates as why Americans don’t have access to the latest medical technology. I’d counter that access to online healthcare tools has been limited by regulatory demands for privacy (HIPAA) and a litigation environment that targets healthcare providers and causes them to avoid new technologies for fear of the risks they will be absorbing as a result. Therefore, I would suggest to Senator Durbin that Americans would get better and cheaper medical technology through tort reform rather than more broadband.
Lastly, as I pointed out last week, the idea that the U.S. is falling behind in broadband is not a simple matter of looking at per capita deployment.