Rural Broad Band Solutions
The pandemic brought this problem into stark relief for rural America. Those with good internet access could work from home, their children could go to school online, families could order supplies to be delivered to their doorstep. Rural families? Not so much.
Now that the pandemic restrictions have eased, we are still faced with the same problem: the great inequality between those that have access to twenty-first century technology and those who don’t. Good internet access is not a fad or a luxury--it is basic infrastructure necessary for daily life.
I believe that we in rural Wisconsin can compete with the rest of the world. We’re smart, innovative and hard-working. But we can’t do it with one hand tied behind our back. We need the basic tools to make it all work. Farmers need to go online from the cab of their tractors, loggers have to get quotes for their loads while still in the forest, schoolkids need to submit their work from homes at the end of a country road. The promise of Telehealth means that all can have better access to basic care.
Many communities are working to expand access, and I applaud their efforts. For some that means putting more cable in the ground, and that will work for a certain number of people. But in a rural part of the state like ours, there will still be a lot of people left out.
Luckily, the most advanced internet systems are designed for rural life, relying on satellite technology rather than laying miles of cable at enormous expense. This gives the possibility that this basic service can be brought to every citizen who wants it, no matter their location.
A great benefit of these more advanced technologies is the limited need for governmental interference to make it happen. No normal person can afford to have miles of cable laid to bring the internet to their home or business. Most families can afford to establish direct contact through a company like Starlink. Starlink is a subsidiary of SpaceX.
That’s the Libertarian in me--I would rather see people take the power in their own hands to provide the solution they need, rather than ask taxpayers to pay millions for a solution that will only benefit some.
Could there be a role for government to assist lower income families in the initial purchase of the technology so their kids can succeed in school?
Is it possible the government could back loans to businesses to get the access they need to succeed in business?
Must the state keep everyone eternally dependent on it? Does it need to be tax revenue based at all?
I don't think so.