Polk Broadband Plan - Page 19

POLK COUNTY BROADBAND PLAN INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND Definition of Broadband According to the definition in the National Broadband Plan, the term broadband refers to “high-speed Internet access that is always on and faster than the traditional dial-up access.”1 Broadband provides higher speeds of data transmission, access to high-quality internet services such as streaming media and interactive services, uninterrupted access that does not block phone lines, and less delay in transmission than dial-up access. From health care to education, public safety to commerce, broadband networks have the potential to dramatically change, enhance, and transform the way we live, work, and play. Why Broadband is Important Throughout history, infrastructure networks have served to connect people, places, ideas and products. The development of every great infrastructure network has facilitated American innovation, progress, and prosperity. Before the 1800s, port cities were the world’s economic and educational hubs. In the 19th century, the transcontinental railroad system allowed people, goods, and ideas to branch out into new territories, creating new opportunities and encouraging entrepreneurship and prosperity. The 20th century saw the development of large-scale electric grids and the interstate highway system—innovations that, once again, allowed Americans to be more productive, mobile, and opportunistic. Similarly, communications infrastructure—telephony, radio and television—also transformed the American economy and culture. In many ways, the development of the internet at the end of the 20th century represented the culmination of these communication technologies. As stated by Julius Genachowski, outgoing Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, “Broadband is the indispensable infrastructure of our 21st century economy.”2 Communities and regions that develop their broadband infrastructure will have better, faster access to new ideas, innovations, and technologies. Being connected means having more and better jobs, a stronger educational system, a more efficient government, more effective public safety and health care providers, and a higher quality of life. Planning now to ensure that Polk County’s future broadband infrastructure needs will be met is essential for sustainable economic development and prosperity within the county. Why Broadband Planning is Important for Polk County Like many areas of transitioning economy and culture, Polk County has experienced a decline in industries that previously provided ample employment. Manufacturing, construction, phosphate mining, and the citrus and cattle industries—former pillars of Polk County’s economy—all employ fewer people than they used to.3 Although this is partly the effect of the global recession that began in 2008, it is also an effect of a general shift in employment in the United States away from goods-producing industries toward service-providing industries. As employment continues to shift toward industries that require more advanced technological skills and more connectivity, an up-to-date broadband network will be essential for securing economic opportunities and preserving quality of life in the county. Additionally, industries that traditionally have not utilized broadband are becoming more dependent on it. For example, in the citrus industry, mobile devices with broadband connections are used for purposes such as logging worker hours and tracking vehicle loc ][ۜ˂[H\[ܘ\X[H\K\[X][HH[YH^H\H]Hو[]\K[ۜ\و\[X\[[\[\X\ M][X\[]Y\و\Z[[][ۋ[\H\X\و\H[][ۈ[]K[[\\[X[܈[HY[ۈ]XHYH\Y]Hو][Y[]\[ܙ\[\H][[][ۜ%\[ X\[[\[%]H\]Z]XHX\[\X\H[\X\ˈ[Y][ۋBHY\[[][X][ۜ[Z\[ۋ8']\Y['H˘Y[ ݋X]؜Y[ [HY\[[][X][ۜ[Z\[ۋ8'[XH[X\ۈ[ܙX]H L ؜˸'H˙˙݋[ [X\[X\\[XܙX]KLL Z؜ŒH\X]HوX܈]\Xˈ[\[]K˘˙݋]K‚M‚