Loading...
BYH, Trump said on Howard Stern's show before he was elected that he used to go backstage at teen pageants and ogle the...

Broadband access fundamental right

021019bunnysanders

Bunny Sanders

Loading…

Monday, February 11, 2019

There is a reason why most rural communities in North Carolina do not have broadband speeds of 25 megabytes per second, even after the state has spent more than $500 million on infrastructure over the last 10 years.

According to internet service providers, or ISPs, it is simply not profitable to serve what is called “the last mile” where there are sparse populations.

Ironically, 80 of 100 counties in North Carolina are rural counties where there are sparsely populated communities. Of the 80 rural counties, 40 are Tier 1 counties, the most economically distressed in the state.

Modern broadband infrastructure is a fundamental requirement for economic development, education and telehealth. But it is also a fundamental right of all citizens of North Carolina, regardless of zip code. Rural communities cannot be sustainable without policy and funding decisions that reflect the reality that commerce runs on the internet. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that the economies in North Carolina’s Tier I counties will change without broadband.

The cost to North Carolina for investment in true broadband infrastructure is far less than what it will cost this state when rural communities fail. Our current policies are failing our communities and our children, and the effects will be felt for decades.

What can we do about it? Here are some things to consider:

First, we need to recognize that ISPs cannot make a business case for providing broadband to sparsely populated rural communities. They can’t because of the cost of the infrastructure necessary to provide broadband at speeds of more than 10 Mbps. This is the fastest speed possible with century-old copper telephone wires currently in use.

Secondly, the state of North Carolina should change legislation, which currently prohibits electric cooperatives from providing internet, cable or telephone service, so they can apply for federal funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide these services. These co-ops would be willing to provide broadband speeds to rural communities in North Carolina. Electric co-ops in other states are building fiber to home networks that offer speeds well in excess of 25 Mbps for their electric customers. Often, they utilize the $5 billion in USDA funding set aside every year for rural broadband that the state of North Carolina does not allow electric co-ops here to pursue.

Thirdly, we need to recognize that legislators, by their actions, perpetuate continued lack of broadband to rural communities. Senate Bill 99 is an example. This bill will award $10 million to ISPs to offer internet service at speeds of only 10 Mbps. This is not broadband speed, which is what most ISPs currently provide even as they advertise speeds of 25 Mbps to underserved and unserved areas. Further, SB 99 precludes any challenge of the ISPs’ advertised versus actual speeds as a means of documenting use of the $10 million in taxpayers’ money.

We also need to recognize that the state depends on ISPs to report access to broadband. The ISPs, however, report only their advertised speeds to the Federal Communications Commission. The last state report indicates that 93 percent of North Carolina has access to broadband — internet with speeds of 25 Mbps. This is a major misstatement of fact. The state has never had more than one independent study that featured maps down to the block group, which is the “real last mile.” This study was conducted by Crystal Jennings, then chief technology officer at the NC Windows on the World Technology Center in Roper in 2009.

In order to make a fact-based decision for funding broadband in North Carolina, legislators need the following: an independent baseline study of internet access; engineering studies to determine where existing infrastructure is located and needed; a strategic plan for deploying broadband to rural communities; and an estimated cost.

Finally, you can help your legislator to understand that your vote is more valuable than the most generous lobby.

Estelle "Bunny" Sanders is a former mayor of Roper, North Carolina.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Op Ed

April 24, 2019

On April 18, U.S. Attorney General William Barr released Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on the probe into "Russian meddling" in the 2016 presidential election. The report cleared President Donald Trump and his campaign team of allegations that they conspired with the Russian government in…

Knapp

April 24, 2019

George Mason University's Antonin Scalia Law School hired Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh to co-teach a course this summer called Creation of the Constitution. The course will be held 3,668 miles away, in Runnymede, England, where the Magna Carta was sealed 800 years ago.

Some…

Walter Williams

April 23, 2019

The Fayetteville Observer

Lumberton got some desperately needed help last week, delivered by Gov. Roy Cooper. The city will get $1.1 million in grants to help prevent repeats of the severe damage the city suffered in Hurricanes Matthew and Florence.

The biggest portion of the grants will help build…

April 23, 2019

The Wi-Fi on my flight from Rome to Newark wasn't working, so phones were buzzing about Notre Dame as soon as we hit the runway. After the initial shock and sadness, gratitude was expressed. There are upsides to being disconnected: At least we didn't have to watch something we couldn't control on…

kathrynlopez

April 23, 2019

If you value fact-based debate and impactful public policy, the state legislature's action over its "born alive abortion survivor" bill last week was cringeworthy.

The proposal brought the year's most overheated rhetoric to Raleigh, and the outlandish claims kept the fact-checkers busy.

But despite…

Colin Campbell

April 22, 2019

Whether he’s advocating a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border or threatening to completely shut down entries, President Trump is more about theatrics than logistics on immigration policy.

His latest idea: Send undocumented immigrants to so-called sanctuary cities — loosely defined as…

Migrant Surge-8

April 22, 2019

Did you know that manufacturing employment in North Carolina has gone up more than 10 percent since 2010? I didn’t either, until I took a recent dive into economic statistics.

In February 2010, there were about 431,000 jobs at manufacturing enterprises in North Carolina. By February 2019,…

020517Hood

April 22, 2019

Patriotism prevailed, and it is likely to continue prevailing.

This is the most significant revelation to come from the long-awaited Mueller report when it documented instances of individuals in President Trump’s circle of aides and allies refusing to do his bidding. They helped save him from…

April 21, 2019

State Senate leader Phil Berger held a news conference recently to announce changes in his plan to improve student reading levels, but the real news was the man he invited to join him, J.B. Buxton, a member of the State Board of Education.

Buxton, a Democrat, is a former deputy superintendent of…

April 21, 2019

There is a mountain of evidence that President Trump obstructed justice. There is considerable evidence that the Trump campaign embraced and encouraged Russia's attempt to meddle in the 2016 election. Special counsel Robert Mueller laid out the facts — and now Congress has a solemn duty to…

Eugene Robinson
265 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 27
        Next Page»   Last Page»