Houston, We Have a Broadband Problem

In real life, the quote was “Houston, we’ve had a problem.” phrase used by Jack Swigert to report an explosion in one of the Apollo 13 oxygen tanks during a flight to the Moon. The crew was forced into survival mode as the team orbited the Moon and returned to the Earth.

It became well-used phrase at our house to announce a problem to be resolved by the family. These problems were often introduced with a single sentence “Huston we have a problem.” thus grabbing everyone’s attention.

As I was watching Mark Zuckerberg sitting a Senate hot seat questioned by Senators who know little about the nuances of technology, and how the internet works. Political creatures who were threatening to regulate something they do not understand. As I watch the questioning, it became clear that many of our elected officials have little understanding of broadband technology and it’s economic and social impact. “Huston we have a problem.” was ricochet through my mind.

It was more than a failure to understand social media and the monetization of its users, which they made clear by the fluff ball questions and their hesitation as they stumbled over the notes provided by staffers. It was a failure to understand the that the internet, machine learning, the cloud and connected technology where are potent tools. That is powerful tools for those who have access to high-speed broadband.

My Huston problem was that large segments of rural populations do not have access to these culture and economy bending tools.This lack of access is the failure of Zuckerberg questioners to understand that broadband access has become an essential element of modern life. To be denied access is to cripple large segment of our rural populations.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel recognized the knowledge problem and is arguing for the reestablishment of the Office of Technology Assessment in Congress after Facebook hearings last week highlighted lawmakers’ knowledge gaps on tech issues. The OTA was established in 1972 to help lawmakers deal with technological developments. It was closed in 1995.

“We need real #technology experts in Washington…. It’s time for [OTA] to return,’ Rosenworcel wrote in a tweet. Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) also offered his backing for a move like this.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

We are not going to solve the broadband problem until our political leaders understand the technology and the how it will shape the future of our social structure.

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