National broadband plan: What's in it for businesses?

We've heard a lot about how the Federal Communications Commission's national broadband plan aims to provide 100 million U.S. households with 100Mbps broadband connections so far, but precious little on how it could affect corporate users.

Who else wants national broadband?

There is a good reason for this since the plan is primarily focusing on boosting broadband adoption and quality in the consumer market. But while there isn't any direct plan to boost enterprise IT networks, businesses may find themselves benefitting indirectly from a lot of the proposed policies in the plan.

The most obvious example of this comes from the fact that increased broadband speeds and deployment will increase workers' ability to effectively telecommute. In addition to proposing spending $15.5 billion for new broadband deployment, the FCC has also vowed to free up 500MHz of spectrum to use for wireless broadband networks. Taken together, these two proposals could make faster broadband available in virtually every area of the United States.

"In a recent survey we did, 84% of enterprises said they were increasing telecommuting," says Nemertes Research President Johna Till Johnson. "If that happens then one of benefits to enterprises is that they can count on having a much broader pipe available to their employees."

Gartner analyst Alex Winogradoff also sees increased capacity and access for telecommuters as one of the primary enterprise benefits of the broadband plan. In particular, he says that workers living in rural areas would no longer have to commute long distances for meetings if they can attend them more easily through high-quality video conferencing.

"The ancillary benefits of this plan will let more people work at home," he says. "The ability for you to have access to more locations in rural areas rather than just cities will help from an enterprise standpoint."

Dan Hays, the director and head of the telecom practice at global management consulting firm PRTM, says that enterprises will also benefit from tangentially from FCC initiatives to implement broadband more aggressively in healthcare and in energy grids, since increased technological efficiency in those industries should help hold down health and energy costs for businesses. Additionally, he says that the increased broadband speeds the plan envisions will give businesses more bang for their bucks on broadband connectivity.

"If you look at the plan released this week, it doesn't really focus on the needs of enterprises," he says. "But there are a large number of ancillary benefits that enterprises will see if the aspirations of the plan are achieved."

Read more about lans and wans in Network World's LANs & WANs section.

This story, "National broadband plan: What's in it for businesses?" was originally published by Network World.

Computerworld's IT Salary Survey 2017 results
Shop Tech Products at Amazon