Tuesday, September 09, 2014

The Great Wall of incumbent telecommunications infrastructure

Every divided territory has a boundary, border or wall mark its limits. Throughout much of the United States, it's that place where despite having plenty of existing infrastructure, incumbent telephone and cable companies draw an arbitrary boundary where the "footprint" of their landline telecommunications infrastructure capable of providing modern Internet service ends and the digital divide begins.

On the other side of the border, digital subscriber line (DSL) signals peter out and can't reliably provide service over twisted pair copper designed for a time when the Internet hadn't yet been conceived. There are also pockets of homes and small businesses in sufficiently close proximity of each other to qualify for cable Internet service, but do not because there are aren't enough along short spans of roadway between them and the wall's edge. Like border signs, the boundaries of these areas are often demarcated with utility pole advertisements offering those in the digitally deprived zone "New Super Fast Internet" that's actually substandard satellite service that should only be offered in the most remote and isolated areas of the U.S.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission could tear down the wall by enforcing the universal service provision of Title II, Section 254(b) of the Communications Act of 1934 (as amended in 1996) that provides that access to advanced telecommunications and information services be available in all regions of the nation. Section 202 of the law also contains an anti-redlining provision barring providers from discriminating against localities in providing service.

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