The Next Netflix? National Security? Standardized Test Scores? Infrastructure Investment Is The Answer

Building infrastructure isn’t just bridges and power plants, it’s accessing and placing economic success within reach for all. 


For weeks, members of Congress have faced off over an infrastructure deal that would transform necessary government-provided resources and give a much-needed economic boost on the tail end of the pandemic. The current plans being debated include roughly $100 billion for broadband infrastructure specifically. While there is an understanding that any bill passed would be bipartisan, the specifics of where the money will go and how it will be allocated have been hotly debated. Luckily for developers, the proposed bills do show that congress is beginning to recognize the important role of the internet in the economy.

With almost a quarter of Americans lacking access to reliable internet at home, the United States is quickly falling behind its developed-nation peers. That’s not something that should happen in a country looking to maintain its power and influence over global politics. The Biden White House has stated that affordable and accessible internet, in both urban and rural areas around the country, is strategically important to their administration. Their proposal states that reliable internet “is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning, health care, and to stay connected,” however conceding that “more than 30 million Americans live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure that provides minimally acceptable speeds.” This of course doesn’t even touch the surface of the number of Americans who have access to home or mobile internet services but are unable to afford them. It also goes without saying how economically problematic this is, especially for a nation looking to educate a generation at home or crawl out of a recession. Thus, it is no surprise that a holistic approach to getting America connected is needed.

Sticking points between the parties include prioritizing networks run by local governments, mandating a minimum acceptable speed, and requiring providers to disclose their pricing structure. Also on the table is the idea to establish multiple regional ‘tech hubs’ throughout the country. These would serve as centers for research and development of advanced technologies, as well as provide high-quality 21st century jobs to citizens in areas outside of Silicon Valley and New York City. Developers believe that any proposal providing funding to ensure increased tech jobs, and internet accessibility and affordability, is considered smart and thus should be considered. 

We acknowledge that citizens around the country have varying needs, households, and budgets that are often reflective of the cost of living in their respective areas. In order for the workforce to compete on a national (and international) scale, however, there must be a baseline of access so that a developer can work remotely in rural Wyoming just the same as they can from their apartment in Brooklyn. Networks must be resilient and reliable if we want a country in which people can depend on their 21st-century infrastructure. You can’t run a business if you only have electricity 50% of the time — the same goes for WiFi.

While the proposals may be costly, the real question is if it’s worth the cost. Developers have given this a resounding yes. A connected economy is the economy of the future. Working from home in a global pandemic is not possible without reliable internet. The growing connected device and smart home space is not possible without reliable internet. E-commerce is not possible without reliable internet. Children receiving a foundational 21st-century education on par with their peers across the country is not possible without reliable internet. Applying to and attending college, and then later job hunting is not possible without reliable internet. The US maintaining a competitive edge against our adversaries on national defense is not possible without reliable internet. In order for a citizen to participate in their government, economy, and community, reliable internet in all corners of the country is increasingly becoming a necessity. 

Developers are here to create amazing products that contribute to the growth of productivity and success of society as a whole, but we need the opportunity to obtain the basic tools to make this possible. We are not asking for broad handouts, but rather access for all and the recognition of its importance for a thriving economy. Developers lead one of the fastest-growing sectors of industry, however are unable to continue to expand without a knowledgeable talent pool that is able to sustain this growth. By providing access to the internet we can educate our citizens and give them the ability to support themselves for years to come.

Just like highways transformed the country’s economy in the 1950s and 1960s, the internet will continue doing the same for today. While some may think that the internet’s economic leaps and bounds are behind us, it’s important to remember that these were just the tip of the iceberg. Developers are responsible for bringing their skills to the table for the betterment of the country. America should realize that with regards to internet infrastructure that it is worth the investment it is making in itself. 

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By Sarah Richard

Developers Alliance Policy Counsel & Head of US Policy

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