Thursday, August 13, 2009

Migration of boomers to Penturbia will boost small town broadband

The Daily Yonder has an interesting item in today's issue that lends credence to Jack Lessinger's prediction two decades ago that America is poised to enter its fifth major settlement pattern. This fifth era -- dubbed Penturbia by Lessinger in the title of his 1990 book on the topic -- will be marked by a shift away from metro areas and suburbs to less populated smaller towns outside of metro areas.

The Daily Yonder story cites a U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service forecast that the baby boomers -- a hugely populous demographic group -- will shun the burbs in favor of Lessinger's Penturbs. A big draw will be natural amenities, which a map accompanying the article shows are primarily in the western U.S.

This is also where the nation's telecommunications infrastructure is least likely to offer broadband and other advanced telecommunications services, services the boomers are likely to expect and demand but telcos and cable companies have found difficult to profitably provide there. An influx of boomers could change those economics. And where the providers won't upgrade or expand their infrastructures, look for the boomers to form telecom cooperatives and do the job themselves.

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