As part of his just-announced "Partnership with Rural Communities," Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer has proposed a massive rural broadband connectivity program that includes $135 billion in investment and "protecting" municipal and co-op broadband networks. "The modern economy is a knowledge economy," Steyer's plan points out. "Full participation in commerce depends on reliable, fast, affordable access to the Internet.
There’s a health-care crisis in the country and it’s hitting rural areas particularly hard. The US could face a shortage of 95,000 physicians by 2025, according to a recent report from the Association of American Medical Colleges. But health care’s physician distribution problem, with too many doctors in urban areas and not enough in rural locations, could be alleviated by community broadband.
The American city with the most sophisticated fiber network is Ammon, Idaho, population 16,500. The city offers residents performance, pricing, and options that inhabitants of a metropolis dominated by one or two internet service providers can only dream of. Ammon is a true local network, where residents own the fiber and providers compete to serve them. “If you were to ask me what the key component of Ammon is, I would say it’s a broadband infrastructure as a utility,” says Bruce Patterson, Ammon’s technology director and one of the key drivers behind the network.
Some Denver City Council members want to explore the city's options for providing internet access to residents who don't have connections. But first, they need to get permission from voters to take stock of those opportunities, says City Councilman Paul Kashmann.
Anacortes, Washington, is building a public broadband network. Is it a model for bridging digital divide?
Anacortes (WA) will join a growing cohort of cities, dissatisfied enough with the private sector, that have decided to offer internet service as a public utility. Officials in Anacortes have spent the past few years researching how to become an internet provider, creating a plan, and building the infrastructure necessary. This month, the city plans to pilot service in three areas.
Digital inclusion is the practice of ensuring digital equity, a condition in which all individuals and communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society, democracy, and economy. To succeed, digital inclusion practitioners must address the many barriers to digital equity, including unaffordable broadband subscriptions, lack of access to devices, and insufficient digital skills. Communities with publicly owned networks are well-positioned to develop digital inclusion initiatives.
Broadband is emerging as a critical campaign issue for the US 2020 presidential election, and there’s good reason: nearly 60 million people in the US do not have broadband service at home. Despite this staggering fact, only four of the 14 presidential candidates we looked at have released fleshed-out policy proposals to expand broadband access (all of them democrats). On the Democratic side, broadband has become a central piece to many rural revitalization plans but as mentioned, only four candidates have released detailed broadband proposals.
Does municipal broadband stimulate broadband adoption or employment growth? I conduct an empirical study of American towns that have built municipal networks to answer this question. Using data from the FCC’s Form 477 and the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, I track broadband deployment, adoption, and employment statistics for these towns from 2013 to 2017. A town’s decision to install a municipal network in the first place is not random, however.
Some of the biggest names in technology and communication came to the University of Mississippi to discuss hot topics in the industry and its future. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) was the guest of honor and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai was the guest government speaker. David Cohen, senior executive vice president and chief diversity officer of Comcast, was the keynote speaker. Cohen said the future of the US depends on the nation creating bipartisan partnerships to encourage a bigger focus on STEM and keeping a free and open internet.
Internet service providers (ISPs) have been able to get away with fostering pseudo-monopolies because they spend a lot of money to keep the regulatory environment and the conversation surrounding it murky. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, has been an effective agent for ISPs. He led the charge to dismantle net neutrality in 2018, and he has done everything in his power to stop municipalities from building their own broadband infrastructure.