Thursday, April 28, 2016

U.S. telecom infrastructure modernization an interstate and not urban issue

Great presentation by Susan Crawford on America's telecommunications infrastructure shortfalls and challenges. However, I am disappointed by what I view as Crawford's (and others' such as Next Century Cities) near exclusive focus on cities. Particularly given Crawford's observation that 20 percent of American homes are off the Internet and unable to purchase access at any price -- a situation that has existed for at least a decade. These homes are not in cities but in the exurbs, quasi-rural and rural areas where legacy telephone and cable companies have not modernized their infrastructures to reach them. They need fiber connections just as much if not more so than urban dwellings, especially so given the ability of fiber to bridge the greater distances between them and economic and educational opportunities and health care.

In the last analysis, the United States is a nation of states, not of cities. Telecommunications infrastructure is fundamentally interstate, connecting cities and states to each other and the nation to the world. It would be a mistake to view it too narrowly as an urban matter.

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