We have been having some discussion on our Facebook page about internet connectivity to rural areas in Alabama.
We were reminded that Alabama remains 49th in the nation in internet connectivity by an article in the Montgomery Advertiser, entitled “Rural Residents Clamor for Broadband.” “23 percent of people in the state who access the Internet [are] using antiquated dial-up services.”
Additionally, I posted a link to the State’s Connecting Alabama map showing how unconnected District 13 is. (Interestingly, I do not believe dial-up users will be able to view the map because the site’s technology requires faster speed than dial-up can generate.)
I commented on Facebook:
Similar to the impact the Rural Electrification Act (1936), stewardship demands we bring the modern equivalent of electricity to our rural areas. Before 1936 electricity was largely unavailable in rural communities because the “last mile’s” cost of rural expansion cut into industry’s profit margins. Similarly, internet providers, today, have picked the low hanging fruits: the markets that are easy for them to access. Without additional incentives, regulations or competition, they won’t extend high speed internet much further.
As an example of the last mile (in this case, the last 100 feet), a report appeared this week about a cable company charging a home $12,000 to lay cable because it was 100 feet too far. The article aptly states:
If a Lee resident moved into a cave in October Mountain State Forest, Time Warner Cable might be justified in charging him $12,000 to run cable there so he watch the Red Sox on NESN and keep up with the Kardashians on VH-1. But the $12,000 the cable giant wants to charge a resident who lives near the Tyringham line is preposterous, and beyond that provides the latest evidence of the desperate need for expanded broadband service throughout the rural Berkshires.
Because Mark Williams lives roughly a half-mile away from the closest Time Warner subscriber, his installation fee escalates from the standard $35 to $12,000, which may as well be $120,000 it is so devoid of logic. Mr. Williams appears to be an eager customer too, one who wants the entire cable/Internet package Time Warner is regularly flogging.
There is no telling how many businessmen like Mr. Williams are tucked away in the Berkshire hills and how many more would come here, to the county’s considerable benefit, if they had broadband access.
A look at the map revels most of District 13 is not connected to high-speed internet. How many small businesses are choosing other locales because of telecommunications infrastructure deficiency in District 13.
Our jobs and the jobs of our children depend on higher-speed broadband to compete globally. Accordingly, it is also vital for our employment and for our children’s future livelihoods to have competitive broadband network.