Innovation in technology and business is one of America’s major comparative advantages in the global information economy. That’s why the Federal Communication Commission’s recently released National Broadband Plan deserves attention.
We believe there are at least three components of the plan that merit attention and support from policy makers and private businesses.
First, the plan calls for innovating online to make advances in health-care information technology, education and job training. It also calls for working to create a smart electricity grid that can better allocate electric power to where it is needed, and create smart homes and buildings that can use electricity more efficiently than they do now. If the government enacts policies that continue to encourage market-based competition for investment and innovation, we can transform the Internet—and our lives—in all of these areas.
Second, the plan focuses on increasing access to the highest-quality broadband available. That’s a goal both of our companies embrace. It’s why Verizon has invested tens of billions of dollars over the past five years to deploy its all-fiber broadband network, and it is why it is rolling out a new high-speed wireless broadband network that can deliver speeds far in excess of many landline networks today. It is also why Google is planning to test a one-gig-per-second broadband network that will provide up to 500,000 people in one or more U.S. communities with ultra-high-speed Internet.
As the FCC’s plan acknowledges, to make advanced networks broadly available and otherwise drive important changes online, we need both private investment and partnerships between governments and private companies.
Third, the plan emphasizes the importance of making high-speed Internet connections available to all Americans. Even though private companies have made amazing progress connecting 70 million American homes and tens of millions of Americans on mobile broadband, many millions still remain off-line. Some don’t have access to broadband. Others simply do not see its value.
Connecting Americans in all parts of the country and in all walks of life can help lift society by connecting minds, stimulating ideas, and unleashing the creative potential of millions of Americans. That’s good for the economy. And that’s good for American communities.
One reason why there is a large middle class in America is that people in this country have the freedom to develop their full potential. The Internet helps them do that, and that is why the FCC’s focus on increasing access to broadband is especially important.
The Internet has thrived in an environment of minimal regulation. While our two companies don’t agree on every issue, we do agree generally as a matter of policy that the framework of minimal government involvement should continue.
The FCC underscores the importance of creating the right climate for private investment and market-driven innovation to advance broadband. That’s the right approach and why we are encouraged to see the FCC’s plan.
Mr. Schmidt is CEO of Google. Mr. Seidenberg is CEO of Verizon.