Here’s an excerpt from an email, sent to me by Tim Maylone, Cherry Capital Connection – a local Internet provider.
The debate highlights the digital divide in rural America. About 26 million people have no access to broadband, which has become a vital platform for finding jobs, attracting businesses, securing health care and acquiring an education.
Many live in rural areas: About 60 percent of rural households, compared with 70 percent of urban households have high-speed internet connections, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Large Internet service providers say they don’t deliver high-speed wired Internet to many rural areas because it’s not as profitable. In response, more than 150 communities have built their own networks, taking a page from communities who built municipal power systems a century ago to ensure residents had access to affordable electricity. Some deliver fiber-optic cables directly to residents’ homes with Internet speeds faster than DSL or cable.
But some local/regional Internet providers object that a utility solution is not fair to existing Internet providers.
There is quite a struggle underway, involving governments and Internet providers about how best to deliver affordable high-speed Internet service to underserved rural areas. We have a version of that struggle going on here, where the major players are:
- local governments: villages, townships and counties
- Internet providers: Cherry Capital Connection, for example, and Charter Communications
What is the best way forward for our corner of northern Michigan? I invite your comments.