Obama Administration: Broadband Internet Should Be Classified As 'Core Utility'

We learned earlier today that if Jeb Bush becomes America's 45th president, he'll waste no time getting rid of net neutrality, which was enacted only this past summer. Contrasting that, the Obama administration feels that net neutrality remains important, and that access to good services is more important than ever.

In a new White House blog post, Jeffrey Zients, the Director of the National Economic Council, fills us in on all of the progress that's been made with broadband ever since Obama became president. He starts off by saying that since 2008, 110,000 miles of network infrastructure has been laid down, and overall, 98% of citizens have access to some sort of wireless. Further, 45 million more people have been able to adopt broadband Internet.


He continues to pat the current administration on the back by highlighting the ConnectHOME program that was rolled out this past July in twenty-seven cities and one tribal nation, bringing Internet access to 275,000 low-income households. Despite this great progress, he does admit that "more needs to be done."

As it stands today, 51 million Americans cannot purchase broadband at speeds of at least 25Mbps, while only 63% can access speeds of 100Mbps or greater. That might not sound too bad, but considering there are numerous smaller countries all over the world that seem to have a better infrastructure all-around, it does highlight a problem. It's 2015, after all.

Internet Adoption 2013
US Internet adoption during 2013

The government is planning to do a couple of things to help improve US Internet as time goes on. That includes enforcing net neutrality rules. In a new paper (PDF), the administration highlights the fact that Internet, and broadband in particular, isn't just a luxury anymore. "Broadband has steadily shifted from an optional amenity to a core utility for households, businesses and community institutions."

Even better, it continues, "Today, broadband is taking its place alongside water, sewer and electricity as essential infrastructure for communities."

This kind of thinking is important, because while we don't need decent Internet to sustain ourselves, it's become so integral in our lives that it's important nonetheless. It could almost be considered important for our well-being.

It's for that reason why opinions like Jeb Bush's is not going to sit well with those who want our Internet to get better, not worse.