By Terry Neal, Former Vice President for Public Relations and Communications
November 17, 2011
The World Wide Web celebrated its 20th birthday this year, a turning point in global communications – even in world history. But long after the Internet has become an integral part of daily life in every corner of the planet, more than 30 percent of American households still don’t use broadband at home.
There are many reasons for lack of high speed Internet use, but the most glaring problem is affordability. While 93 percent of the nation’s wealthiest families are regular broadband users, 46 percent of the nation’s poorest households don’t even have a computer, according to a recent report by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s recent report, Exploring the Digital Nation – Computer and Internet Use at Home.
The report found that broadband use is growing, but at a moderate pace, reaching 68 percent of households, up from 64 percent from a year earlier, the NTIA report said.
One bright spot continues to be rapid growth of wireless broadband access. President Obama has set a goal of boosting wireless broadband coverage to 98 percent of the country within five years. Of course, LightSquared is eager to begin building its network to help President Obama reach his goal.
Currently, fewer than 5 million people in North America depend solely on their mobile devices for broadband access, according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index. However, due to the surging popularity of smartphones, mobile devices are expected to be the sole broadband access devices for 55 million people in 2015, according to the Cisco study.
That surge in demand also highlights the need to get more spectrum on the market as soon as possible. Not only are more people going to be using the spectrum, but the devices they use draw much more capacity from the network. Smartphones use 24 times more wireless capacity than a regular handset. Tablets use five times more data than a smartphone and a netbook uses more than twice as much as a tablet on average.
Wireless broadband is the only practical way to successfully increase adoption and eliminate overcrowding on the network. It will also make broadband less expensive and more widely available. The way to do this is with more spectrum; we cannot delay deployment because every neighborhood is crowded.
LightSquared is poised to help ease the spectrum crunch by making new airwaves available. We have committed $14 billion in private investment over the next eight years to build a nationwide wireless broadband network using 4G-LTE technology integrated with satellite coverage. Ours is the only spectrum that can be deployed within the next year, so it is imperative that we reach a conclusion of the review and approval process so that we are able to move forward.
With LightSquared, providing broadband to 98 percent of Americans within the next five years will be a reality.
Terry Neal is the former vice president of public relations and communications.