Three suggestions to help rural broadband happen from Wired

Wired Magazine has an article outlining steps they say would help increase broadband in rural areas:

  • Allow smaller providers to lease infrastructure
  • Improve access to utility poles
  • Streamline the right-of-way

It’s a mashup up of the Open Access network strategy, which had more momentum 7 years ago and Google Checklist from 3 years ago. I like the idea of three steps to making rural broadband happen. I’m not sure these are the right three steps – at least not for every community.

The framing of the article recognizes that policies based on the assumption of a free market only work where there is a market…

Republicans argue that the government should stay out of regulating the internet. And, in a perfect world, they’d be right. Ideally, if your internet service provider slipped permission to use your browsing history for ad targeting into its fine print or decided to charge you more to access Netflix than Hulu, you’d just switch to a different provider that offered better terms.

But that’s not an option most people in the US have.

According to an FCC report released last year, only a little more than one-third of the population had more than one internet provider that offered speeds of 25 Mbps or more, the FCC’s minimum definition of broadband. For rural America, the situation was even more dire. Fewer than half of rural residents had access to a single 25 Mbps provider.

I think it’s worth creating multiple scenarios for any policies, storyboards of potential impacts to warn of unintended consequences.

This entry was posted in Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

3 thoughts on “Three suggestions to help rural broadband happen from Wired

  1. Very interesting!…

    “There’s no technical reason why the United States could not quickly find itself in a similar situation to many other Western nations and have a national broadband plan, except for the small matter that the US seems to have a pathological hatred of governments, and, in particular, government ownership.
    It’s at such a point that Virginia is reportedly looking into the prospect of municipal broadband being such an anathema that it must be banned if private companies offer 10/1Mbps or faster plans to 90 percent of a footprint.
    Until such trends are reversed, there will always be a section of America that is left behind on communications.
    Sometimes, you need a government to take foolhardy, economically questionable decisions that provide for a greater societal good precisely because it makes no sense on a balance sheet or in a quarterly earnings call.”

  2. Why do those who want the “Government to stay out!” continue to ignore the sheer volume that telecoms spend in DC to have the government help them whether it is through legislation or tax credits?

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