How many Americans can’t buy home broadband because no ISP offers service in their area? You might think the answer to this question would be straightforward. The FCC releases reports on the state of US networks (wireless and wireline) on a regular basis, including the number of US citizens, principally in rural areas, who lack broadband service.
Broadband access is one of the pillars of economic development, yet as many as 24 million Americans, including a disproportionate percentage in rural areas, still lack high-speed and reliable internet service, according to the Pew Charitable Trust.
When it comes to removing Huawei or ZTE telecommunications equipment from U.S. broadband networks, a strategy of “rip and place” would cost well over $1 billion. Rural broadband carriers don’t have the budget for that, and they are concerned that the costs of a retrofit would delay the deployment of 5G wireless networks.
At least a half-dozen separate pieces of broadband legislation are working their way through Congress, and panelists assembled by the Schools, Health, and Libraries Broadband Coalition on Wednesday commented on the pros and cons of how these bills would deploy broadband connectivity to unserved and underserved areas of the country.
In my mind, the FCC betrayed rural communities when they adopted the 10/1 Mbps speed goal for CAF II. That told rural communities that they had to settle for second-rate broadband that was far slower than the rest of the country. From what I hear, most rural communities don’t even consider the CAF II upgrades as real broadband. Rural communities want fiber. They view anything slower than fiber as nothing more than a stepping-stone towards eventually getting fiber.
It has been more than 10 years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, which began a global financial crisis and an economic recession - a period of time that fundamentally changed the American economy. Although the data today shows that the country overall has seen economic improvement, the reality is that rural America hasn’t seen the same benefits as urban areas.
The Federal Communication Commission Chairman Ajit Pai outlined two new initiatives aimed at ensuring U.S. leadership in 5G and continuing efforts to close the digital divide. Pai announced his intent to create the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, which he indicated would inject $20.4 billion into high-speed broadband networks in rural American over the next decade.
The Trump administration is announcing two major initiatives aimed at speeding the deployment of next-generation wireless networks -- a major new 5G spectrum auction and a $20.4 billion fund for building out broadband in rural areas.
Representatives Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., and Susan Brooks, R-Ind., announced the introduction of H.R. 1328: the ACCESS BROADBAND Act today, bipartisan legislation that would expand broadband access in underserved areas and create a simpler process for small businesses and local economic developers to access federal broadband resources.
There is exists a gaping digital divide between Rural America and the rest of the country, in which 146 million people (45 percent of the population) do not have access to a low-price plan for residential broadband. That is according to research released last week by BroadbandNow, which also found a slightly positive correlation between income and low-priced broadband.