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Is Rural Internet Worth the Cost?

This piece from NPR looks at the debate over plans to use more than $7 billion from the stimulus plan to expand broadband Internet access in rural areas.

"The stimulus package includes $7.2 billion to expand broadband Internet access into 'underserved' and rural areas. Katz listed ways that the $7.2 billion could be put to better use, including an effort to combat infant deaths. But he also spoke of rural places as environmentally hostile, energy inefficient and even weak in innovation, simply because rural people are spread out across the landscape."

"Rural advocates say high-speed access is a necessity in a global economy, and a critical part of economic revival and survival for rural places."

"There are plenty of other anecdotal examples of broadband bringing jobs and commerce to rural towns. But there aren't definitive studies or data, says Shane Greenstein, an economist at Northwestern University who specializes in telecommunications."

"The reach of broadband nationwide is also unknown. There is no comprehensive tracking of broadband service, including which neighborhoods, towns and cities have it and which don't. No federal agency or private group keeps track."

"But surveys conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project indicate 57 percent of the people interviewed nationwide do have broadband connections at home. But only 41 percent of the rural respondents connect at high speeds."

"Another survey indicates that broadband generally tends to go to two kinds of rural places: counties with large farms, and mountain and beachside enclaves that attract owners of second homes and tourists."

Full Story: Stimulus Stirs Debate Over Rural Broadband Access

Comments

Comments

rural internet

just keep'um dumb,
pregnant
and down on the farm
and they won't come to the big city
and add more to urban congestion

is THAT your attitude?

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road?

or?

Get Back, Honky Cat!

Michael Katz's comments are

Michael Katz's comments are amongst the most uneducated, stereotypical and disrespectful depictions of rural areas I have ever heard.

Instead of depicting rural areas as environmentally hostile, he might think about the fact that rural areas are the resource base of urban economic prosperity, and consider whether the urban centers that have benefited from the exploitation of rural resources have ever paid their fair share for the stewardship of those resources.

Case in point, the region our organization work in, the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California.

The Sierra Nevada provides some portion of the drinking water to 65% of California residents, provides habitat for more than 50% of California's biological diversity, provides timber food and fiber, and sequesters more carbon per acre than the amazon rain forest. Yet urban investment in the stewardship of rural resources totals less than 3% of total investment in resource management in California.

The gold flowed from the Sierra Nevada and San Francisco got rich, the water flowed and Los Angeles got rich, the timber flowed and Wall Street got rich. What urban exploitation has left behind is a landscape of abandoned mines, damaged watersheds and endangered forests.

How do the rural residents who are restoring our lands, revegetating our watercourses and managing our forests, get compensated for the years of extraction?

Here's an idea: how about we recognize that the relationship between urban and rural residents should be a collaborative and mutually beneficial one?

Steve Frisch
Sierra Business Council

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