A lot has changed over the past 70 years, but if you drive down the road today, it is not too different than how it looked in the past. America’s infrastructure has not kept up with the pace of innovation and the significant changes society has undergone. We in the tech industry believe it is time we modernize our infrastructure to meet the demands of the 21st century.
Yesterday, five Cabinet secretaries testified before Congress on this issue, underscoring the critical importance of rebuilding, investing in, and updating U.S. infrastructure beyond traditional public works projects. Innovative policy proposals discussed at yesterday’s hearing – such as expanding rural broadband access, deploying 5G technology, and securing our infrastructure systems – would help to enable much-needed transformative change to bring our infrastructure into the 21st century and create a range of societal and economic benefits for all Americans.
In our rapidly-evolving digital world, the infrastructure challenges of today cannot be solved with the solutions from yesterday. To ensure American economic strength and leadership on the global stage, it is imperative that we leverage smart management and cutting-edge technologies while moving to adopt forward-leaning infrastructure policies that spur economic growth and job creation and meet the public’s current and future needs. ITI urges both Congress and the Administration to build on the foundation of the president’s “Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America,” and work in partnership with industry stakeholders on the following infrastructure efforts:
- Expanding Broadband Access Nationwide: Ubiquitous, affordable, high-speed broadband connections are essential to deploying 21st-century infrastructure technologies and enabling the benefits and services of smart cities and communities. A number of broadband-related legislative proposals have been introduced in the House that would incentivize the expansion of broadband access through various mechanisms, including mapping national broadband availability; streamlining the application and permitting process for broadband deployment; and lessening the costs for communities to deploy broadband through “dig once” and “climb once” policies. These legislative efforts should be supported and advanced to help strengthen our broadband infrastructure and close the digital divide between rural and urban America.
- Enabling Smart Tech in Infrastructure: In an age where everything is increasingly connected to the internet, the ability to integrate smart technologies with traditional transportation and infrastructure systems is essential. Incorporating emerging technologies through the Internet of Things (IoT) into the foundation of any new infrastructure – from roads, bridges, and traffic management systems, to the electric grid and water infrastructure systems – will improve safety, maximize efficiency, save significant taxpayer dollars, and enhance the overall quality of life for Americans.
- Securing Infrastructure from Evolving Threats: In spite of our best efforts, the introduction and usage of new technology may beget new threat vectors and security vulnerabilities. The Administration and Congress should ensure that security is integrated into new digitally-enabled infrastructure at the outset. Doing so will increase resilience against cybersecurity threats, safeguard data privacy, and secure the trust of the American people.
- Expediting Deployment of Spectrum and 5G: In order for the U.S. to maintain its leadership over foreign competitors in emerging infrastructure technologies, new spectrum must be made available for wireless broadband, and investment must be incentivized. With 50 billion devices connecting to the internet by 2020, robust and cutting-edge broadband networks – like 5G – are essential to harnessing the different characteristics offered by low-, medium-, and high-band spectrum and advancing innovations such as autonomous vehicles and smart cities. The RAY BAUM’S Act, which was passed by the House in March, would help to ensure that the U.S. remains a global leader in deploying next-generation wireless networks.
Now marks an unequivocal opportunity to bring our infrastructure into the 21st century through smart, innovative, and transformative technology, akin to how roads and bridges paved the way for American prosperity in earlier generations. The tech community urges the Administration and Congress to seize this moment and leave a lasting legacy that will continue to improve the lives of Americans for decades to come.