Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Just a few miles outside of town: Falling through the cracks with outdated 1950 view of U.S. residential settlement

A good problem to have: Managing the ARPA windfall in a small NC county - Carolina Public Press:
Having more GREAT grant money to expand broadband is a point of interest for Madison County, where census data shows 72.4% of residents have a broadband internet connection — significantly less than the state’s 83.4% average.

“The grants that have been awarded — other grants not connected to this — over the years have been to reach the far outstretched parts of rural counties,” Young said. “What’s left is the people close to town that weren’t close enough. The outskirts of the county have some internet, but those a few miles outside of town are still living in 1991.”

This is a basic problem in how the U.S. subsidizes advanced telecom infrastructure. It takes a binary view of residential settlement patterns as if it were still 1950 and people either lived in town or on farms while overlooking the edges of metro areas and exurbs. Housing density in these areas is higher than rural but lower than the suburbs. But it's too low for investor owned infrastructure to be profitably built and operated. As a result, they fall through the cracks and are overlooked by both the private and public sectors.

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