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Jonathan Spalter

Be a Connected Candidate

Presidential aspirants will gather in Detroit tonight to debate their visions for America’s future. Alongside questions about healthcare, trade, immigration, public safety and national security ought to be a serious examination of technology policy that puts the candidates’ views on broadband internet front and center.

The reality is this: every single national aspiration you’re likely to hear on that stage is fundamentally rooted in the strength and reliability of broadband connectivity.

Don’t believe there is a connection?

Broadband providers have built the communications networks – literally through some of the planet’s toughest terrain – that have connected the nation, powered 25 plus years of internet innovation and transformed the way we live, work and play.

But to maintain our leadership in the global digital economy and unleash the transformative power of broadband for the next generation and beyond, the United States must keep pace with the connectivity race unfolding around the world (hello China, India and South Korea).

The collective future of our communities, families, health and wealth, runs through a nation connected by broadband.

Across the aisle and up and down the ballot, 2020 candidates must affirmatively commit to a broadband connected future that prioritizes accessibility, modernization and security.

Here is where a connected candidate should start:

Infrastructure investment

Yes, we need to rebuild our roads, bridges and airports, but connectivity must be part of every mile of American infrastructure in the coming years.

A massive federal infrastructure investment that leverages private dollars ($1.7 trillion since 1996) to ensure broadband reaches every unserved American family, community and enterprise – especially in rural areas – will achieve three bipartisan goals: narrow the digital divide, expand access and make network infrastructure more resilient.

Win, win, win.

Consumer protection

A national reckoning on privacy, consumer protection and cybersecurity has arrived, and broadband providers stand ready to do our part to shore up digital trust.

Connected candidates can do their part supporting a single federal privacy framework (goodbye patchwork of state rules or deferring to Europe) that respects and protects activity online and applies to all (yes, all!) companies operating on the internet.

Cyberattacks against the country – botnets, data breaches, not to mention the vulnerability of IoT devices – call for a sustained partnership between government and industry that shares intelligence and protects networks and supply chains like the critical infrastructure they indeed are.

A connected candidate will also put down the soundbite stun guns and stop the sky-is-falling rhetoric by coming out for a modern, federal net neutrality law that prohibits blocking, throttling and anti-competitive prioritization by all internet companies (yes, all!) and ensures consumers continue to get the content and services they want.

Economic competitiveness

Emerging 5G technology will be a critical driver of economic growth and job creation in the years ahead. The global winner in this race will not be the first country to offer the technology on your cell phone, but the country that proves its commitment to innovation in the form of digital health, AI, driverless cars and on and on.

As we continue this sprint toward next generation networks, a connected candidate will support a policy framework to spur more broadband investment and make modern and reliable internet connectivity a reality for all Americans (yes, all!).

This will include a level playing field for all innovators (newcomers and original disruptors alike) and a plan to retrain talent and educate the workforce of the future. It also means partnering with communications providers to build networks that encourage small businesses and entrepreneurs to choose rural America not in spite of broadband connectivity, but because of it.

America is looking for candidates who transcend the divisive red vs. blue storyline and fight for a more prosperous and fair America. Candidates: broadband connectivity is a great place to showcase your commitment to the country’s digital future. We look forward to hearing your plan.