In the past few days there was a renewed push to include broadband Internet access in the list of utilities. Included in most current lists are: electricity, water, sewer, telephone, steam, and natural gas. The perceived importance of broadband Internet access has been echoed by both politicians and academia for some time. (See Prof. Frieden) One need only look at the MuniWiFi projects around the US, or the efforts of local communities to develop fiber networks in their communities.
Recently British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made the comparison that Internet access is as important as access to other utilities (Thanks to Blandin for posting about this). The US included quite a bit of monetary support to increase broadband penetration and access in the US this past February in the stimulus bill. Many times President Obama has signaled that broadband Internet access is essential to the future of the US.
Why not make Internet access a necessity like other utilities? The rhetoric and the mentality are present in many individuals, groups, and communities across the country. Just as other services such as water, electricity, and telephone were included in the list of utilities, so should Internet access.
Of course there is a catch to providing Internet access. Devices are needed to utilize Internet access. Fortunately some relatively inexpensive computers have become available. In cases that these inexpensive computers are out of the means of citizens, a scheme similar to the DTV coupon program should be created.
6 hours ago