The National Broadband Plan Four Years Later

March 14, 2014  • Blair Levin

One of the lessons of “Big History” is that the great advantage the human species has over other species is inter-generational “collective learning.”  A turtle today knows what the turtle knew 200,000 years ago.  Humans know something more than we did then because what we learn in a lifetime is shared, and not lost, when an individual dies.  And as a species, we are driven to test that knowledge, reject it when it proves inadequate, and improve on what we know.

It turns out that the same is true for countries and National Broadband Plans.  While many countries have such plans, the ones that thrive the most are those that continue to learn, share that learning and improve.  Some, like Singapore, where I was last month, do it well.  Others, like Myanmar and Ethiopia, where I also have met with government officials, well, not so much.

In an effort to be a bit more like Singapore and less like some others, a group of National Broadband Plan Alumni will be gathering at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation on Wednesday, March 19 at 12:00 p.m. ET to discuss what we have learned in the four years since we published the plan.  Some results are counter-intuitive.  In a Plan with 200 recommendations for government officials, perhaps our two most important initiatives to emerge from the planning process are entirely private sector driven.  Others are surprising.

The recommendation that I thought had the least political support now has significant political momentum while the one with the most political support was stalled for nearly four years.  Other lessons are more expected.  The chapter that has had the most success in changing federal policy, is the one where the federal government held the most levers.

To find out what I mean, and more important, to find out what some of my colleagues think about lessons from the Plan and what is the agenda ahead for what should be thought of as the government’s IP transition, please join us Wednesday. Details and registration at