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Government and Industry Leaders Want Broadband Everywhere

The latest update of the Visual Networking Index (VNI) forecast of Internet protocol (IP) data traffic from 2011 to 2016 is just astonishing. At the top level, global IP traffic growth is exploding at a CAGR of nearly 30% with much regional variation across the world, and different technologies and applications gaining share.

To explore the implications of the VNI forecasts for countries, consumers and corporations, I hosted a panel of experts with a wide range of policy, technical and industry experience. Joining the discussion were:

Diego Molano Vega: Colombia’s Minister of Information Technology and Communications

Daniel Weitzner: Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Internet Policy, Office of Science and Technology Policy at The White House

Kathleen Abernathy: Chief Legal Officer and Executive Vice President of Frontier Communications; and former Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission

Kevin McElearney: Senior Vice President of Network Engineering at Comcast

The panel discussed a wide range of issues, with three key take-aways:

Broadband is a critical tool for individuals and communities to connect to each other and the global marketplace. Broadband data traffic is growing fastest in emerging countries, and the ability to exchange information quickly across long distances expands economic opportunities, driving growth and productivity, as well as increasing social interaction and inclusion. This is as much the case in a country like Colombia as it is in rural areas of the United States.

While broadband infrastructure is crucial to lay the foundation to expand access to connectivity, the development of applications, proper training and skills are necessary to ensure adoption of broadband and truly unleash the transformative power of the Internet. Governments, working with private industry in Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), play a role ensuring a conducive business environment where industry can invest in infrastructure and help to spur demand by providing online services for its citizens and opening up information, including public data.

Broadband data demand, quantity and speed, are only going to increase as more and more content is digitized and delivered over IP networks. The networks that will be able to support this demand will be heterogenous — Het Nets — combining macro and small cell wireless access and fiber optic cables. Only such networks will be sufficiently “future proofed” to keep up with the data growth rates forecasted by the VNI.

Watch the lively panel discussion below. The video includes the latest VNI results presented by my colleague, Doug Webster, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on May 30, as well as the panel discussion.

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