An Unprecedented Opportunity to Build Dynamic, Secure Broadband Access for All of the U.S.
All Americans, regardless of background or location, deserve a fast, safe, and reliable digital experience. Whether in Silicon Valley, rural Montana, or an underserved area in Chicago, entrepreneurs, businesses, and consumers should be on an equal footing online. Unfortunately, that is not the current reality, and the pandemic only amplified and exacerbated the existing digital divides we know so well.
But thanks to the historic amount of capital made available by the recent bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build broadband infrastructure in a way that will enable individual Americans and businesses everywhere to thrive. But to lay a foundation for the future that truly bridges the digital divide, we must think comprehensively about this investment.
Beyond access and speed: Incorporating cyber protection
To do this, we must look beyond the traditional and simple metrics of access and speed. It means recognizing that, to be effective and equitable, new broadband networks must also incorporate cybersecurity and support reliable, low-latency access to services online.
Reinforcing trust and security online is more important now than it has ever been before. Consumers depend on online services for everything from banking to healthcare — such services are essential to nearly every aspect of modern life. At the same time, cyberthreats are growing exponentially, so much so that defending against them is now essential to our economic and national security.
Counter cyberthreats with robust internet security
In this environment, effective broadband requires more than just access and speed. It also requires robust network security — for all users, everywhere, all the time. Building core security into every internet deployment is a critical first step to countering cyberthreats and to building trust in online services.
The initial responsibility to protect from risks should not be placed on end users, but rather on the broadband providers. They are in the best position to detect and block malicious content, including phishing attacks, and to provide capabilities to filter content that is age-inappropriate for children.
Security-embedded, fast broadband is possible
Building secure, high-performing networks is not that hard. We’ve already helped some of our partners deploy fast broadband internet for homes and businesses that has security embedded and helps keep consumers safe from their very first login.
For example, Akamai partnered with a leading internet services provider to develop an integrated security solution that small businesses can leverage in combination with internet connectivity and networking services to reduce cybersecurity risk. This solution automatically protects against phishing attacks, botnets, and malware, without the need for complicated configurations or for small businesses to develop deep technical knowledge.
Adding in complementary performance technology
Security, though essential, is not enough. We also need efficiency and performance befitting of the amount we plan to spend. To get there, we should layer broadband speeds with complementary performance technology that improves latency and makes services more reliable. This will help ensure the investment in our infrastructure is able to support the connected services of tomorrow — at home, in the office, or elsewhere.
As the Biden administration begins to implement these much-needed broadband infrastructure investments, we must keep in mind internet security and performance along all service quality dimensions as much as speed and access. By building a strong digital foundation that addresses the complex realities of today’s online world, we will enable people and businesses to succeed regardless of location. We will also build broadband infrastructure that helps protect our national and economic security interests.
It’s imperative that we take full advantage of the opportunity that the infrastructure bill has provided.