We need a rural Internet initiative

David Warlick’s recent comments about rural Internet access got me thinking again about an issue I’ve discussed with my students.

I think we need some kind of national rural Internet initiative, similar to the creation of the Rural Electrification Administration during the New Deal era. I also think we need to start thinking about high-speed Internet access as something that’s as essential to communities as water, electricity, and sewer service. I don’t think there’s much disagreement that universal access to information and services on the Internet is going to become increasingly important in the future.

WiMax, EVDO, or other wireless broadband technologies that have long reach seem particularly promising.

2 Responses to “We need a rural Internet initiative”

  1. I have to second that. Living in a rural area, we have no access to high speed Internet without spending over $60 a month for the basic service via mini dishes. Most families cannot afford that just for the niceties of speed. On the other hand, why are we cheating our students out of the content rich media and services found on the net. There is no way they can stream videos through dial-up. Services like Thinkfree.com are slow loading as well. There has to be a better, more affordable way. I am not sure what the progress is for the high speed over electric lines, but that would be one convenient way.

  2. First thanks for the WiMax link to our blog we appreciate it when any blogge links to us and we will try to return the favor next week when we start poting again.

    Next I agree with you that there needs to be some incentive to roll out high speed access to rural markets. I am not to sure I trust the Government to do it and get it right put the corporations ain’t doing it either.

    My two suggestion

    1. Offer a grant or tax break for exach “X” ammount of new subscribers in underserved makets. This would let the Government incentive it but leave decisions and deployment in the hands of companies who know how to actually pull it off for a reasonable cost.

    2. Let the communites apply for Grants or Tax breaks so they can afford attract companies to build out the networks. This is better because all the big guys sitting on their butts would get greedy as small companies started deploying stuff all over the place.

    You see the big carriers could do it if they wanted to but they are too busy fighting against net neutrality and making billions to sever the smaller markets that will take a ten year path to become profitable.

    Jack Spirko

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