Obama and the growth of broadband

Obama and the growth of broadband

Much has been made of Barack Obama’s successful use of the Internet in organising and coordinating his campaign, and in engaging (and soliciting donations from) his supporters, with many refering to him as the first candidate to successfully do this.

This is true, but it is worth remembering that he and John McCain were the first candidates with this opportunity. Currently, the US has 64% household penetration of broadband, which is sufficient critical mass for an organisation like Obama’s to flourish. However, in previous election years the same statistic was at 25% (at the start of 2004) and 0.25% (at the start of 2000).

Broadband growth has been exceptional, in the vast majority of markets. Growth has generally been faster than the mobile phone experienced, the spread of PC usage in the home, or even the take-up of tv. That broadband has been one of the fast growing trends in recent memory is worth remembering if the pace of the debate around many of the issues today feels slow – keeping up with such a fast-moving trend provides many challenges.

Obama made excellent use of broadband during the election. However, his extensive network may now be causing his transition team some problems. Apparently 290,000 applications have been received through his change.gov website for the 8,000 posts available, with the number of applications expected to rise to 1m by January.

By comparison in 2000, George W. Bush received just 44,000 applications. And this doesn’t include the bombardment of Obama staffers’ email accounts or social networking profiles. Information overload, perhaps? Sounds like a familiar debate…

Peter Shearman, Policy Manager, BSG