The Least Connected People In America

Nowhere is the ‘digital divide’ more extreme than on tribal lands. Will Washington’s solution fix the problem?

This a long article by Margaret Harding McGill a technology reporter for POLITICO Pro, about the challenges of providing broadband access to citizens living in Idaho rural communities. Communities in the Sierra face similar challenges.

Bottom line is communities cannot depend on major telcos, self-help is the better solution.  The article concludes:

Blair Levin, a former FCC official who worked on the national broadband plan, says policymakers confronting the rural broadband problem need to start thinking of it as an investment in public infrastructure that will yield larger social benefits.

“America is very good at certain things and very bad at certain things,” Levin said. “We’re not so good at investing in the common good… We can see common benefits, but the political forces don’t align to fund them.”

For the tribe’s part, the Nez Perce are planning to compete in the upcoming auction themselves to go after funding to extend broadband to areas, like the hatcheries, that lack access. They don’t feel like they can count on private companies to ever get around to them.

“If we’re not doing it ourselves,” Wilson said, “it just isn’t getting done.”

Emphasis added.

Rural Sierra communities should be considering the Idaho solutions, including this ONE



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