Thanks to everyone who joined the Lunch Bunch today, especially Micah Beck, Associate Professor at University of Tennessee, Knoxville on universal basic broadband. We had all of the right people in the room, some serious engineers, policy wonks, academics and folks on the frontline of unserved communities. It was nice to spend time thinking about thoughtful ways to build networks to everyone.
Micah recognizes that broadband is expensive – especially when we are talking about high speed symmetrical service to all corners of the state, country or world. He has said that, “the Internet was never designed for “universal service” reaching every mobile device in the world at a personally affordable cost. Instead he proposes a type of broadband where information and transactions don’t happen necessarily in real time but where there’s a modern distributed storage & processing techniques to overcome delays due to distance, interruption, disaster, oversubscription. This would be a service that could support all Internet services other than “synchronous telepresence”.
We talked about the costs, local ownership, the temporal windfall of investment that’s currently happening (or about to happen). We also talked about universal broadband as a redundant tool for served and unserved areas. It came back to a familiar balance – do we want high quality or ubiquitous access? Would basic broadband be an opportunity for local communities to focus on high quality last mile networks?