Why Are Telecom Companies Blocking Rural America From Getting High-Speed Internet?
Originally published: April 17, 2012
Last updated: April 19, 2012 - 8:53pm
Municipal broadband networks are thought to be a good option for vast, sparsely populated rural areas because laying cable across them is a costly proposition, one that’s hard for private companies to justify without a greater guaranteed return than such areas can typically provide. When cities, counties, or public utilities own and operate the networks instead, however, they can provide low-cost, high-quality access to the Internet to their residents. Localities can finance them through a number of avenues, including public-private partnerships or bonds.
But the titans of telecom aren’t operating on quite the same wavelength. Since last January, AT&T, CenturyLink, and Time Warner have contributed just over $146,000 to politicians in South Carolina who back legislation that would cripple networks like Orangeburg’s. It’s only one example of a broader campaign by telecom companies to protect their cartel at all costs—even at the expense of keeping the country’s poorest on the wrong side of the digital divide for many years to come.
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