Why is Broadband Important?
Broadband technology has revolutionized the way services are provided and business is conducted. By improving communication and the flow of information, broadband enhances efficiency, thus, enabling significant advances in Connecticut’s ability to compete in the global economy. This facilitates job creation, decreases health-care costs, reduces miles driven and fossil fuels consumed, expands consumer choice, and improves competition. As a result, Connecticut’s citizens are beneficiaries of advancements in health care, public safety, energy, government, performance, education, economic development, workforce development, and transportation.
Fortune 500 companies and government services now require digital literacy for their job applications and Medicare claims, respectively. Possessing digital literacy skills is an essential competency necessary for professional advancement and personal prosperity. Those who do not have access to the Internet are at a disadvantage in the academic arena and the increasingly competitive labor market. Once one has access to broadband, one perceives it as more of a necessity than luxury. In an online poll measuring the importance to consumers who currently have broadband connections, 85 percent of those polled said they would give up eating out, designer coffee and cable TV before their cell phone and Internet service—demonstrating the importance for one to have broadband Internet access.1
The following are descriptions of how access to broadband impacts economic development and industry.
Access to broadband increases the ability to use electronic medical records, wireless medical devices, and capacity to collect and analyze patient information. Broadband can provide real-time data to providers, allowing for faster diagnosing and treatment, thus improving patient care. Electronic medical records can reduce redundant treatment, eliminate time-intensive paperwork, and expand research and data capabilities. In addition, UConn Health Center can become a top tier academic medical center from state-of-the-art broadband technologies that Governor Dannel Malloy is proposing.
Broadband can enable a system where first responders nationwide can communicate with each other via public safety wireless communication devices. For example, a firefighter arriving at a scene could instantly check police communications and data transmissions such as building maps with a PDA or laptop—possibilities not currently available with just radios. In addition, the state has signed a $14.2 million contract that will allow nearly a dozen criminal justice agencies in Connecticut to share information.2 Broadband could enable the real-time tracking of offenders and maintain accurate and reliable information that further promotes public safety.
Smart Grid technology, enabled by broadband, provides consumers with real-time energy consumption data, increasing the likelihood of energy conservation. Smart Grid implementation can revolutionize the way people live and function with the appliances and technologies in their homes. For example, mobile devices could enable individuals to control their heat and lights remotely. Also, Smart Grid technologies provide opportunities for improved management of the electricity transmission and distribution system.
Broadband facilitates the delivery of e-government services and applications, providing government with more opportunities to communicate with its constituents. The ability for government to offer more services online increases the efficiency and accessibility for all residents with access to the Internet. With the state facing structural budget deficits, offering more services online is one way for government to reduce the cost of providing services to the public.
As the content grows on the Internet, more teachers are assigning homework that requires access to the Internet—and using the Internet to enhance and add dimensions to traditional learning techniques at all levels of instruction. For example, students can now participate in virtual high school classes. This allows students to take classes not offered at their high school and to learn at their own speed. The Internet also enables parents to more easily communicate with teachers and to view grades, progress reports, and other student evaluation information.
Broadband enables towns, regions, and states to develop, attract, retain, and expand job-creating businesses and institutions. It enables new business growth and the expansion of existing businesses into new markets.
Broadband-enabled job-training can customize training so it reaches the broadest group of people at a lower cost and with greater flexibility than the traditional model of training classes. Broadband enables a workforce system to provide individuals with training and career help in a more flexible and cost-effective manner.
Broadband enables technologies that can alleviate congestion, enhance road safety, and reduce the environmental impact of transportation. For example, in South Korea, wireless sensors help monitor the health of bridges.3 This changes the model from an engineer inspecting a bridge on-site and then reporting back, to using data collected remotely to monitor the condition of a bridge continuously. Another example of the possibilities with broadband is in San Francisco, where a mobile network is used to deploy a smart parking system that allows users to locate open parking spots or pay for parking using a mobile phone.4 Broadband also enables telecommuting, reducing traffic congestion during peak hours and reducing pollution.