In a July 21 New Jersey speech Verizon Communications CEO Ivan Seidenberg observed that whereas a few years ago less than one billion people worldwide were connected to the global economy the figure today is nearly 4 billion. A major factor in this explosion is the Internet and other modern networked communications. Nearly all the growth has been (quite naturally) in the less-developed countries--China, India, the countries of the former Soviet Empire and to a lesser degree, Latin America.
With networked communications central to global economic prosperity the opportunity cost of policies that retard upgrade of the US's skimpy bandwidth will increase. The relative influence of Asian telecom leaders will increase as well. Broadband policy is an essential and growing component of advanced economic activity. The US has done remarkably well despite poor broadband policy, and likely will continue for some time to do very well. However, absent substantial further network infrastructure upgrade America eventually will face the consequences of policy stagnation: global economic leadership will transfer to Asia.