A new federal infusion of broadband funding could spark a variety of effective responses for getting more New Englanders connected via high-speed internet. Sean Gonsalves at the Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR) Community Broadband Networks Initiative likened the recent federal infusion of broadband funds to rural electrification in the 1900s. “It’s like history repeating itself in a good way,” Gonsalves said.
The share of U.S. adults using the internet has not grown significantly since 2013, according to the Pew Research Center. It’s a trend reflected in rural broadband subscription rates that continue to lag significantly behind rates in urban areas. The gigabit elephant in the room is the ridiculous amount we spend for broadband relative to the quality of services communities, especially rural areas, get. Federal agencies have been spending $6 billion per year since 2009 for rural broadband.
The state of broadband in the US’s farmlands is a mixture of the good, the bad, and the apprehensive. The good: successes and advancements brought on by broadband and various digital technologies. The bad: many farms still have to rely on pitifully weak technologies such as satellite and DSL. The cloud of apprehension: we spend $6 billion in broadband grants yearly with surprisingly little to show for it, and yet we’re ready to do it again next year.
Although most of the nation’s rural counties lost population from 2010 to 2020, new Census data shows that rural counties with better broadband access tended to do better with population change than counties that lacked access. As more residents had access to broadband as defined by the Federal Communications Commission in 2011, the county population increased nine years later. Most counties did improve their broadband situation as the 2010s continued. Broadband access grew as the decade progressed for both kinds of counties – those that lost population and those that gained. But the impor
The FCC's Emergency Connectivity Fund is providing $7 billion worth of broadband and leading digital technology for two critical anchor institutions – libraries and schools. Three US Senators launched the BRIDGE Act to bring $40 billion to these and other anchor institutions. The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) opened a $122 billion grab bag of tech and non-tech funds.