Editor’s note: This is a summary of the article “Why can’t we get rural American online? Because it doesn’t pay the bills for big companies,” authored by Sam Bloch, staff writer at The New Food Economy, published March 19, 2018. Read it here.
Seven years ago, the United Nations declared broadband access a human right. Yet, many rural communities in the United States still do not have access to consistent high-speed internet.
Why does this lag exist? And, how can we resolve the issue?
Rural Americans face several challenges to access broadband internet services;
low incomes, population density, and hard-to-access topography make it complicated. But, maybe one of the biggest issues is, the telecommunications companies aren’t doing a good job.
In February, FCC published a new broadband map — intended as a tool to guide legislation and appropriations for federal funding of deployment. Large areas of the Great Plains and southern states are not covered. Gigabeam (WISPS) could help by putting up relay towers. Since 2012, the FCC has offered billions of dollars in funds for providers as incentive to go out into the expensive, hard-to-access parts of the country. But WISPs generally aren’t eligible for those funds.
Writer Sam Bloch defines the problem, questions the funding process (do telecommunication carriers have too much influence in state legislators) and explains how new sources — like rural electric cooperatives — could offer new solutions.
You can read the full article here:
Take a look and let us know your thoughts. Is access to high-speed internet an issue in your area? What challenges do you face?
The New Food Economy: Why we can’t get rural American Online? was originally published in The Dirt on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.