Five years in the media world is an eternity these days – since 2005 YouTube, Hulu, Twitter, and Facebook have profoundly changed the way we communicate and how we consume media and entertainment. The FCC last week shared the details of their National Broadband Plan that, if approved, should have another major effect on media and entertainment. Their plan is designed to double the households with high speed Internet access from 50 million to 100 million homes by 2015 and it hopes to make broadband 20 times faster by 2020. According to the New York Times, the FCC categorized its congressionally mandated plan, as “a much needed step to keep the nation competitive.” “This plan is necessary to meet the challenges of global competitiveness, and harness the power of broadband to help so many vital national issues,” stated FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
The FCC’s justification for its plan is reminiscent of an argument raised back in the 1950’s by our late president Dwight D. Eisenhower. He argued that we needed an interstate highway system for the purpose of national defense. “In the event of an invasion by a foreign power, the military would need good roads to be able to quickly transport troops around the country.” The only troops I can remember being transported quickly was when my parents loaded up the family truckster and drove my sister, brother, and I down U.S. 95 from New Jersey to Florida to see Mickey Mouse. The highway system did, however, open up the country; it motivated more Americans to hit the road on vacation, and allowed for goods to be transported faster and to more destinations.
For the last four years, as the vice president of Media and Entertainment at BurrellesLuce, I’ve closely followed the challenges media companies have been faced with in trying to keep up with the evolution of technology and at the same time protect their content and profits. With the type of speed and reach proposed in the National Broadband plan, media will surely once again evolve into something unfathomable to us at the present time. As highlighted in this article, Google is already getting involved, reportedly working with Intel and Sony Corp to develop a new class of Internet–enabled televisions and set-top boxes.
Whether the availability of a faster Internet in twice the number of households makes us a more competitive country remains to be seen. But with that kind of speed and access the already growing number of people getting their entertainment and media from the Internet is sure to explode in the coming years. Like the interstate system did for domestic travel, raising the speed limit on the information superhighway (please excuse the 90’s terminology) will allow more people to travel further and faster throughout the media and entertainment world.