Benjamin Applebaum
Health + Tech /27 Jun 2017
06.27.17

Don’t think Small, add Broadband to the Wall

In a recent speech in Iowa, President Trump said he wants to add solar power to the proposed wall on our southern border. He should go a step further and consider adding high-capacity fiber optics cable (broadband connectivity) to run the entire distance of the wall.

Having broadband connectivity run the entire length of the wall (or the border) would give the Southwestern region a huge gain in connectivity, route diversity, and new capacity for a small, incremental price (running conduit through the wall and pulling high-speed fiber through it).

It would really add a lot to the functionality of the wall for next-to-nothing and provide another layer of critical infrastructure that is currently not available. Adding more network infrastructure in the southwestern region would build more regional sustainability.

Broadband connectivity adds to the economy

When it comes to adding critical layers of infrastructure to any region in the United States, there is definitely a good economic payback for that region. When many discuss infrastructure, they only talk about the layers of roads and bridges, railroads, and maybe airports. The Platform for Commerce, the comprehensive business definition for infrastructure and economic growth which is also referred to by the US Army Corps of Engineers, is a much more comprehensive look at all the layers of infrastructure which includes broadband connectivity as well as the power grid.

Connecting the West Coast to the Southern Border States (Arizona, New Mexico) all the way to Texas, would add a great amount of new capacity to the current network infrastructure as well as provide additional network diversity. A high-capacity fiber route from San Diego, California all the way down to Laredo, Texas would provide more routing diversity to the electronic trade route that is currently in place.

In the last couple of years, there has been so much hype about the move to 5G networks and the explosion of wireless devices going from 10 billion to 30, 50, or 75 billion depending on what study you believe (ABI Research, CISCO, or Morgan-Stanley) by the year 2020, new network infrastructure has to be built out.

With all the talk of moving to next-generation 5G networks and increasing network infrastructure capacity to handle the explosion of devices for the Internet of Things, adding fiber optics to carry that new traffic creates a win-win for the country.

We are lagging behind in Internet speeds

America is far from being number one when it comes to nationwide internet speeds. The top country in that category is South Korea. We need to catch up and overtake the countries that have passed us in the race to providing a first-rate network infrastructure.

Just like we have had air superiority for decades, from a cyberwarfare standpoint, we should also have global net superiority in both speed and defensive measures built into our network infrastructure.

When you look at the current global rankings, the United States barely makes it into the Top Ten. We need to increase our overall network speeds across the board. The “State of the Internet Report” gives a comparison of internet speeds.

The United States, at the time of this comparison averaged 18.7 mbps. We barely made tenth place and are lagging behind. We are clearly not the global leader when it comes to having fast internet for our country. We are not even in the top five.

If we are going to “Make America Great Again” we need to increase our network infrastructure’s capacity and speed capability. We need to set a goal that leapfrogs over the other countries to 100 mbps, but preferably 1 gbps (1 gigabit per second) to really forge ahead of the status quo.

The border wall could add a good piece of new network capacity as well as provide better network diversity in a region of our country that is not rated too high as far as network speeds by state.

Other “add-ons” to the border wall could be a natural gas pipeline or a traditional oil pipeline linking the Texas oil fields to the West Coast. A cost/benefit analysis should be performed to see if this is feasible. The add-on of fiber connectivity should be added to the project.

It’s time to be creative and look beyond the typical one-dimensional, single solution approach to government projects and instead, look to see how other synergistic capabilities can be added for only a small, incremental cost.

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