Such an idea, of course is anathema to many sections of the community in a land that champions the benefits of a free market economy so zealously. However, Atkinson seeks to demonstrate in his paper that: "broadband is unique in that the social returns of broadband investment exceed the private returns to companies and consumers. Therefore, market forces alone will not generate the societally optimal level of broadband in the foreseeable future... active public policies to spur broadband, in addition to policies to remove barriers to deployment, are critical to ensure the best possible broadband future for the United States."
He does not, however pretend to have the answers. "What exactly those proactive public policies should look like must be subject to significant analysis, debate, and consideration. It is time to move beyond the debate of whether the United States needs a national broadband policy. It does. The task now is to craft it and implement it."
It's worth noting that, despite all the studies, reports, grants and projects of the former Coalition Government and the ALP's FTTN initiative we still don't have in Australia a national broadband policy developed from a through examination of the issues, requirements, economic and technical possibilities etc. Instead we can look back on 15 years of false starts, failed attempts and apologies for real policies.