US Broadband Plan: Rewired for a clean energy economy

18 March 2010
This week, the US Federal Communications Commission sent the National Broadband Plan to the White House. It puts a better communications infrastructure at the heart of solutions to multiple societal challenges, including energy and climate change. 
The Climate Group welcomes Goal 6 of the Plan that calls for every American to have access to real time energy information to track and manage their own energy consumption. This is a significant step toward enabling the full global opportunity for the ICT sector to save 15% of global emissions in 2020, and saving 1 Gt CO2e in the US alone.
An entire chapter of the US National Broadband Plan is focused on the benefits of broadband enabled applications for managing environmental impacts and energy consumption. Specifically, it focuses on achieving ‘smart’ grids, buildings and transport systems as well as acknowledging a range of efficiency measures needed in ICT devices and services themselves.
The focus on communications is crucial for two reasons. First, both people and machines will be able to act differently when they have access to better information – they will be able to ‘manage what they measure’. Second, the data-generating platform can be used by companies to provide a whole range of services to consumers and businesses that save energy, fuel and resources. 
What’s good for consumers and business is good for the economy. Sensors and instrumentation that collect information from machines and the natural environment are leading to an explosion in data and information on environmental conditions and energy, and a race to create knowledge from it. Data management and analytics is growing nearly twice as fast as the rest of the IT industry at 10% per year. And companies such as Intel are investing more in US manufacturing even as other sectors – automotive and chemical – report declines. 
The FCC plan will strengthen the US position globally in providing competitive solutions for a low carbon economy.
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