The United States is one of the wealthiest countries in the world but still has some 24 million people with no broadband coverage. This is an issue that is buried beneath all the net neutrality outrage. It may not be a “spicy” topic, but for these 24 million folks, the economic benefits that come from the high-speed internet are just a fantasy.
The Millions Left Stranded
With politics becoming more divisive than ever, underlying issues such as access to the internet are being clouded by the ideological clashes taking place across the country.
Has The Issue Been Drowned?
The announcements are clogged with personality issues regarding politicians or other controversial issues. Susan Boser, the Democratic candidate, striving to oust Republican House Member Glenn Thompson in Pennsylvania recently stated: If you were to ask people what issues they’re voting on, first and foremost they would say ‘pro-Trump or anti-Trump. Next would be guns and abortion, then the needs of the area, which are jobs and the opioid epidemic.”
So, in other words, internet access is buried between the stories pushed by the mainstream media.
Where Have The Elected Officials Gone?
There is a saying that all politics is local. By that argument, internet access should be an important topic on a candidate’s agendas as the mid-term elections are being contested this autumn. But the reality is grim. Christopher Mitchell, the director of Community Broadband Networks for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, said so.
Politicians of both parties lack the desire for better broadband coverage. This could be their downfall as local politics should dominate House races.
Tides Maybe Turning
However, Boser believes the tide may be turning.
“When I talk about the needs of the area, I’m focused on (the) local economy, and the first solution is broadband. Everybody’s head is nodding; I’m getting very, very strong support for it. I had a woman come up to me after a town hall and say, ‘You had me at broadband.’”
Perhaps, the bad news surrounding net neutrality presents a small ray of hope. Ultimately, wasn’t it the mantra of the politicians that warred against net neutrality that it prevented investment by the broadband companies?
To fix the problem, there has to be a massive investment in infrastructure. Private companies cannot do it alone. It will need the support of the politicians and local officials as well.
Steps should be taken to mobilize voters reminding them of the relationship between the ballot box and their Wi-Fi connection.