Solving the Rural Broadband Equation — Fund Infrastructure, Not Carriers.

When we think about solving the rural broadband problem, nearly everyone tries to answer the question: “How do I find a carrier to serve rural areas.” But that’s not actually the problem we’re trying to solve. The problem we’re actually trying to solve is getting people access to quality broadband so they can participate in the modern digital economy and modern society generally. 

If we start by framing the question in terms of a goal (get people broadband access) rather than a solution (find people a broadband carrier), we open a whole new world of solutions and approaches. The reason rural communities don’t have broadband access is fairly straightforward: the communities in question are not sufficiently profitable to serve to justify the investment by profit maximizing firms. If we then apply the skills we all (hopefully) learned back in high school math, we then break the problem down into solvable components. So we can either (a) raise the profitability of the target area; (b) lower the cost of deployment and operation; or (c) find entities that are either not motivated by profit or that are satisfied with much smaller profits.

Short version — fund infrastructure, not carriers. And by “fund” I don’t just mean “throw money at,” although we need to be clear there is no way to avoid throwing money at this if we want to get the job done.


Solving the Rural Broadband Equation — Fund Infrastructure, Not Carriers.