More than 30 million Americans live in areas where the internet infrastructure simply isn’t there. This disproportionately affects rural and tribal areas because it’s just too expensive for private companies to install the wiring. The farther homes are spread apart, the lower the return on investment. So some cities and counties across the country have decided to build broadband as a utility for residents, just like water or power. Residents in Wilson County have some of the best internet in the nation.
Affordable high-speed, broadband internet is rare across Navajo Nation, the reservation that stretches across three southwestern U.S. states and is larger than state of West Virginia. And its absence for many families, especially over the past 15 months, has further exposed how critical access to it is for residents to participate in basic elements of society. It’s a problem the Biden administration is looking to tackle as part of its infrastructure push.
A growing number of school districts across the country, spurred in part by the coronavirus pandemic, are going into the cell tower business. Many school districts have tried for years to provide internet service to needy families with mixed success.