A recent study by the Center for the Digital Future concluded that children in the U.S. had less access to the Internet than kids in the Czech Republic, Britain, Macao and Canada. Other data showed that in other parts of the world, Southeast Asia in particular, cell phone access to the Internet is exploding.
Given how quickly the Internet has become the platform for most business, I find it disturbing that our country has such a ganglia of expensive access options, while many people can afford none of them. Therefore, I'd like to throw out this idea to the new administration as it considers investing in infrastructure as a tactic to stimulate the economy. Build a free, national, wireless Internet access system.
The frequencies are available, with the move to digital television. The technology is available. The users are eager. American businesses would benefit greatly. Schools, using web-based programs and cheap netbook computers, would be able to offer a much richer education.
Certainly, the cable television and cell phone industries would fight such a move, benefiting as they are by the minimal competition in offering Internet access. Perhaps these concerns could be reduced by hiring these companies to acutally build and maintain the system, with the right to sell ancillary services to local users.
If we want to remain the leader in cutting-edge technology and develop a more highly-educated work force, breaking the bonds that deny Internet access for everyone would be a huge step in the right direction.