An immodest proposal

FORWARD WITH FIBER: An Infrastructure Investment Plan for the New Administration is my second essay at the Publius Project. The first was FRAMING THE NET.

This one is a bold proposal: putting $300 billion into bringing fiber to every possible premise in America. Unlike other proposals of this sort, this one goes out of its way to embrace rather than to exclude the phone and cable companies. It challenges them to look past “triple play”, toward supporting an infinitude of businesses and opportunities that will open up when we all break free of telecom’s regulatory boat-anchors and conceptual blinders, and start thinking about wide open connectivity and capacity as a new frontier: the 21st Century equivalent of the Louisiana Purchase. And about as cheap.

Against all the ways it might not work — expectations of government incompetence and industry provincialism correctly run high — the idea is easy to dismiss as naive. But I still think it’s worth considering.

The problem isn’t what’s wrong with the current system. It’s what’s not right with it yet. That’s where we need to start looking for solutions. And that’s the direction I’m pointing here.

5 comments

  1. Francine hardaway’s avatar

    I think this is a hugely important project, right up there with rebuilding the electrical grid and other long-ignored infrastructure projects. In Arizona, because we have so many rural areas and reservations, we have been trying to get this done with what amounts to a frenzy:-)

  2. Don Marti’s avatar

    Doc, what do you think about the Palo Alto approach? Seems like a win/win–what’s the catch?

  3. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Don, there isn’t a catch. That’s why I said it has to be open to, and involve, municipalities that are in the best position to do something. But I also have to say I still don’t know much about what’s happening there. I used to follow Palo Alto pretty closely, and they were all over the map. But I’ll start looking now. Thanks for the heads-up.

  4. Mike Warot’s avatar

    Doc,
    You do realize that if the internet is distributed everywhere, then servers can live anywhere, and ideally would be spread out there in the net. Think solar cells on poles, with a CPU and a radio on each one…. as the sun comes out, they wake up and talk to their neighbors, speeding or slowing with available energy… the high-tech replacement for the humble cricket. Compute load would shift worldwide to where the sun happened to be out.

    You could take it even further and just put all of it into a single chip… power, compute, communications…. that only works in the light. No hassle of worrying about storing power, you just move the work to where the sun is.

    Smart dust? Not quite, but smart flowers, maybe.

  5. Don Marti’s avatar

    Mike — or when you buy an “electric space heater” you get your money back as soon as the “heating element” has done the device’s value in processing power.

Comments are now closed.