7 Ways to Spend 7 Billion of the Stimulus Package Improving the Internet
The United States Senate passed a stimulus package Tuesday which reportedly has $7 billion earmarked for expanding high-speed Internet access. The stimulus is intended to keep the United States competitive during and after the current global financial crisis.
7 Billion is a lot of money, and there is a lot needed in order to keep our industry competitive. If it were up to me, I know exactly where I’d put it.
- Internet Ubiquity — I want to turn off my toaster from anywhere around the world. Is that too much to ask? Access to high-speed broadband, like municipal wi-fi and 3G networks, is simply too unreliable and expensive. Efforts towards expanding the reach of networks have been hot and cold. WiMax seems to be a questionable technology at best. There needs to be a solution to bring the internet to everyone, everywhere and it will take some substantial investments to get it going.
- Bigger, Stronger, Faster — Plans by broadband providers in America to increase speeds are infantile compared to those in other countries. It’s striking that the place where the internet was invented pales in comparison to places like South Korea, where average download speeds are almost 50 mbps.
- Online or Offline. It doesn’t matter — Connection is one reason, but keeping a copy of your data locally is another. Google Gears makes it easy to access the internet online or offline. For the most important services this is a great band-aid. Now it is up to the rest of the web to fill in the gaps.
- The Mobile Web — Computers are expensive, but cell phones aren’t. If you put the power of the internet in these devices, it means empowering families that may not be able to afford broadband internet at home, but might be able to start that business or buy from the palm of their hand instead.
- One account for everything, on your server, on your terms — OpenID and Google Friend Connect says your data is your property, but is it really? Facebook Connect is another way to consolidate your online information, but seems to be holding on to your data until they can figure out how they are going to make money off of it. Courageously, all of these companies seem to be working together to make OpenID work, well, openly.
- Open-Source Everything — Open-source projects are usually free to the public, which means the projects themselves don’t make much money (if any) and usually operate underbudget or on a shoestring. However, these projects provide the infrastructure and interoperability it would take to stimulate businesses and save them from inventing the wheel innumerable times. In many ways, this isn’t any different than what the entire stimulus package was intended to do.
- Give it to Webmonkey — Okay, maybe not just Webmonkey. Educating web developers with the skills they need to make them competitive is a tremendous stimulus. Making the internet easier to use and program will mean more professionals, more ideas, more businesses and a better internet. Besides, imagine the amount of tutorials we could entice writers to write with 7 billion dollars? If you’re looking to stimulate the economy in your own little way, contribute your own tutorial to Webmonkey.
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