October 12, 2020 – The digital divide is a real problem for rural America, Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of NTCA, the Rural Broadband Association, said on Thursday at the Blandin Foundation’s conference on broadband.
“People in Washington like to talk about the digital divide, those who have connectivity and those who are still waiting for it,” just as they discuss electricity, Bloomfield said.
But she said she sees most of America served by large corporations that follow where the money is, and rural areas are often left with providers that are smaller, but still faithfully serve their communities.
And in the environment in which the coronavirus pandemic has changed so much, instead of seeing spikes in broadband usage throughout the day, we now see that “spike” going all day long, Bloomfield said. This trend will only continue, she said.
Bloomfield endorsed the need for funding for broadband mapping and deployment. She praised the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund decision to go forward even amid less-than-adequate broadband maps.
She also recognized the role of Department of Agriculture ‘s ReConnect program.
And while she said fiber was the preferred technology, wireless is still a good short-term solution for those who had nothing. The recent Citizens Broadband Radio Service auction may spur on more such developments.
Even without federal funding, several solutions have and should proceed forward with broadband deployments. For example, in North Dakota, the state worked with Dakota Carrier Network, splitting up the areas that needed coverage between the companies. “This is one of the best ways to make sure the communities aren’t left behind,” she said.
Larger companies are building fiber networks in some of these rural areas but they’re only doing it for 5G backhaul, she said. It would be better if those companies could also be incentivized to build the fiber out directly to customers at the same time they were building backhaul fiber.
She also said that she was “extraordinarily bullish about telemedicine.”
Since the outset of COVID, many of the usual telemedicine restrictions, such as the inability to practice across state borders, have been removed, increasing the umbrella of patient care.
Rural areas should focus on their health clinics because they provided one-size-fits-all care, she suggested. They could help be an intermediary institution for people too afraid of going to a hospital packed with people.
- Panelists at Tech Policy Institute Conference Tout American Approaches to EU Privacy Ambitions
- FCC Details Section 230 Authority Argument, White House Regulates AI, What Was Quibi Again?
- Breakfast Media Minute: October 22, 2020
- Nokia 4G on the Moon, Localities and Drone Operations, Ajit Pai’s 6G Keynote Speech
- Broadband Breakfast Live Online on Wednesday, October 21, 2020 — Preparing for Success
Signup for Broadband Breakfast
Fiber5 months ago
Fiber Networks Hold a Cybersecurity Advantage Over Rival Co-Axial and Wireless Technologies, Say Panelists
Congress5 months ago
Senators Introduce Healthcare Broadband Bill as House Companion, Proposes $2 Billion Telehealth Expansion
Artificial Intelligence4 months ago
Brookings Panelists Emphasize Importance of Addressing Biases in Artificial Intelligence Technology
Broadband Roundup1 month ago
Nathan Simington is Trump’s New Man for FCC, New Speed Test, Challenges for State Net Neutrality
China6 months ago
China Expert Predicts that Nation’s Flawed Coronavirus Response Will Damage the Power of Chinese Communist Party
Rural6 months ago
Why the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund is So Significant, and How to Succeed in Applying For RDOF
Artificial Intelligence4 months ago
U.S. State Department Employing Artificial Intelligence Against COVID-19 Misinformation
Broadband's Impact3 months ago
Broadband Breakfast Live Online Launches Weekly Series Featuring ‘Champions of Broadband’