This week the Federal Communications Commission submitted a proposal to Congress outlining the actions needed to connect the U.S. by national broadband. FCC Agency Chairman Julius Genachowski notes: “It’s an action plan, and action is necessary to meet the challenges of global competitiveness, and harness the power of broadband to help address so many vital national issues.”
Of course, Chairman Genachowski’s statement and the FCC plan are fueling lively discussions about the real value broadband can bring to fixing our economy.
I tip my hat to Fortune senior editor Michael Copeland for his commentary about the FCC broadband plan. At LiveOps, we couldn’t agree more with the objective of making affordable, high-speed broadband Internet available to at least 100 million American homes by 2020. Not only will this plan help Americans receive access to information, education and new modes of communication, but perhaps most importantly, it will help Americans receive access to work opportunities in a workforce that has grown increasingly connected and mobile.
Technology has brought many positive changes to the world, but some of its most profound effects have been in the world of work. Job and business opportunities have moved out of the classifieds section and are posted online. Many job applications require that the applicant submit them exclusively online. And one of the most staggering demonstrations of broadband’s effect on the workforce is the fact that 42 million people in the U.S. work from home – a reality that has been made possible exclusively through access to fast, reliable Internet access. At LiveOps, we have recognized this new reality as the wave of the future and have placed it at the core of our business, as we build on our network of more than 20,000 independent contractors located throughout the country.
Broadband Internet access is what has allowed the workforce to surmount physical and geographic barriers, enabling millions to take control of their careers as free agents, independent contractors, and for some companies, part-time or full-time employees operating in a fast-paced global market, from wherever they happen to be. This flexibility empowers Americans to capitalize upon job opportunities not just in their community, their city or even their state, but from all corners of the country. This access to jobs is of particular importance in areas that have been hit hardest by the country’s depressed economy – where job opportunities in industry-specific towns have withered. Enabling more Americans to become connected via broadband will not only help individuals revive their careers, but it also has great potential to help lower the unemployment rate and revitalize communities nationwide.
I also believe it is important to consider the positive effect on overall quality of life for American workers and their families. Having access to broadband presents the opportunity for people to work from the comfort of their homes while offering businesses a chance to be untethered to physical and geographic boundaries. This is exactly what West Marine, the largest retailer of boating supplies has been able to do*. A more pervasive broadband plan in the U.S. can help reduce the sacrifices that come with juggling work and home life. Broadband can have profound impact on individual work performance and overall satisfaction when work and home life are not at odds.
Access to secure, affordable and robust broadband will enable the future for America, its businesses and its citizens, all of whom should have a right to tap in to this connected future anywhere, anytime. In my opinion, it is time to take action to move this from an idea to a reality.
* Check out SearchCRM story on how West Marine laid off their buildings and kept their talent thanks to technology to the home. “Work-at-home Agents Part of the Shifting Tide for West Marine“