The striving of nations to build a broadband-based information society is paralleled by individuals striving to improve their personal lot and by organisations seeking a competitive advantage—all supposedly to be achieved via broadband. However, the social and economic impact of broadband may be surrounded in controversies. This paper argues that these controversies need to be identified and addressed if public policy decisions about broadband are to be made with confidence. While literature on broadband abounds, it is rarely directed at the impact of broadband on social and personal issues. Rather, that literature typically focuses on broadband's economic aspects, but with poor benefit identification and measure difficulties, the findings tend to be steeped in rhetoric. Largely, what we are left with is literature on the impact of narrowband Internet. While research on the Internet abounds, its findings are typically indeterminate and often disputed. The paper works with literature on broadband and extrapolates from the literature on narrowband with its disputed impacts to identify possible impacts of broadband. In so doing it identifies a core set of controversies regarding broadband at the national, individual and organisational levels. It then calls for diversity of analysis of possible broadband outcomes. Only with such analysis will it be possible to place the likely broadband future in the context of broader national, individual and organisational aspirations.
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