About Government in Broadband

In response to a question asked in Information Week: Why is Sen. Chuck Schumer asking federal agencies for financial support to extend an upstate New York county’s fiber network into surrounding areas?

The interstate highway system didn’t get built without federal funds. Rural communities didn’t get electricity or phone service without government intervention. We are moving toward an era where true high-speed Internet access will make at least as significant an impact on quality of life and access to information as access to home phone service has. Government intervention is needed to level the playing field.

Other responses suggest that there is no demand for broadband access and that people don’t have to use the services of a broadband company if they don’t like it. That’s how the free market works.

But the fact is, at least in my community, there’s only one game in town. You either get broadband from that company or not at all. And that access hasn’t improved much, if at all, since it was unveiled in 2002 (or 2001), before Youtube, Hulu, Amazon S3, iTunes, Netflix streaming, Vonage, web applications, and other developments that have occurred over the past decade that people take for granted while others are ignorant of them because they live in areas with infrastructure that can’t support it.