By Samir Saini, New York City Chief Information Officer and Commissioner, Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications on Medium
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Federal control of local streets isn’t going to bring more or better wireless service to Americans.
The industry and the FCC have argued that allowing wireless companies to put up equipment anywhere they please will encourage broadband deployment to underserved areas. Looking at recent history, there is no reason to believe that they actually will.
Driven by their profit motive, big wireless companies are going to go where the money is — to the rich commercial districts and dense residential areas in urban cores, upgrading the network already in place there and charging the highest rates they can get. They will not be racing to serve traditionally underserved areas at affordable rates — be they rural or urban — where the prospect of profit doesn’t look as good. This could result in the kind of “digital redlining” AT&T stands accused of doing in cities like Cleveland and Detroit.
We see this play out in NYC, where poles are priced as low as $12 per month in underserved areas yet there are very few providers looking to install in those communities. Our colleagues in rural areas tell us they haven’t been able to attract companies even when offering poles at NO cost.
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This is a reality check by a professional who deals with the big telcos on a daily basis. Follow the money! This money trail does not lead to rural communities.