Mandating community service is bad
Other small-bore remedies are common sense, like requiring companies to share poles–which would solve Blick’s problem–or a “dig once” policy of laying cable during road building.
Competition would also help–yet exists in only a quarter of areas wired for broadband.
The collective deficit in opportunity, education and prospects–everything implied in “being connected”–further separates us into haves and have-nots. The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under President Obama called a 25-megabits-per-second download speed–the minimum technical parameter of broadband–the “table stakes” for participation in 21st century life.
“And by the middle of the month, it goes to nothing” as data limits are reached, says resident Jean Siedel. If a kid is looking at a video, I can’t even see a photo on Facebook.” Rob Blick, who teaches math at Conotton Valley, is the most tech-savvy teacher in the building but had no idea that the cartoon frog a student has posted on his classroom bulletin board was Pepe, an Internet meme appropriated by white nationalists. “I better take that down.” The trouble is he has a master’s in computer programing but no Internet at home.
Social-studies teacher Danielle Caldwell exults after trading up for DSL. His mother’s house has DSL, and people arrive an hour early for Sunday dinner so they can get their online banking done before the meal.
“But then I also know power companies don’t want to do it. It just seems to me it’s the modern-day equivalent of the interstate highway system.” Politically, the persistence of the digital gap defies logic.
Rural areas, after all, punch way above their weight in Washington. The consolidation of communications giants has decreased competition and grown the industry’s clout in Washington.“Hell, it’s barely fast enough to check your email,” says Covert. Then you hit it again and get a snack …” America’s digital divide is not only a matter of geography.