Friday, April 10, 2009

Develop Policies to Expand Rural Broadband Access

One of the education technology blogs that I read had a post about the need for states and local communities to develop policies to access rural broadband access.

From Moving at the Speed of Creativity...

We CANNOT wait for commercial Internet providers, like AT&T, Verizon, and others, to bring high-speed Internet connectivity to rural America based on return-on-investment (ROI) calculations. These companies have not brought those services to rural America because it is not comparably profitable to do so as it is in urban population centers. When we electrified our nation in the 1930s, we did not wait for behemoth mega-corporations to conduct ROI studies, and then “get back to us with their decision.” No, we formed a variety of utility cooperatives and utilized government subsidies to get our entire nation electrified. Organizations like the Tennessee Valley Authority were created and maintained to provide electricity as well as other services in areas where businesses and corporations wouldn’t do it. The same thing needs to happen today with rural broadband connectivity. The 2006 Tennessee Taskforce on rural broadband deployment’s observations were and are exactly on target in this regard:

“Rural electrification [in the United States] was achieved only after a coordinated effort by the public and private sectors, which succeeded in driving full deployment and adoption of that technology to farms and small towns across the country,” the report stated. “Widespread deployment and adoption of broadband also will require a coordinated effort by the public and private sectors.”

Our assumptions of what is normal, expected, and standard for “high speed” Internet in the United States are in need of a MAJOR shift. Compared to parts of east Asia and Europe, our “high speed” connections are excruciatingly slow. Telecommunications companies are not going to “fix” this problem on their own.

Iowa must develop policies at the statewide and local levels to expand rural broadband access. It's a matter of economic development for rural communities. How can you expect a business to locate in a rural community when they lack basic infrastructure to run a business in the 21st century?

1 comment:

Julie Wright said...

Rural broadband activists and technologists RidgeviewTel have a website where people in unserved or underserved rural communities can register and aggregate their need for broadband to help attract service / stimulus dollars:

Visit or call 866-992-WNBB and find us on Twitter at @ruralbroadband!