Good afternoon and welcome!
Let’s dive right in– why is broadband important for rural Nebraska? Rural America is currently experiencing what’s known as a ‘digital divide’, which basically means that our urban counterparts are outpacing broadband deployment compared to those of us in rural areas. They are getting faster, better internet before us and it’s hindering our economy. If we want to grow our current businesses, create new job opportunities, or recruit young families and new businesses, the availability of fast, reliable fiber internet will play a huge part in that. Don’t believe me? Ask any young person if they’d move somewhere with unreliable or slow internet access. We’ve got to even the playing ground if we don’t want to be left further behind.
Think back to when electricity was being wired across the country. It took government programs to help usher this expansion because the cost was too great for towns to bear on their own. Unlike electricity in Nebraska, which has an excellent model for public utilities, broadband as a public utility faces several hurdles in the state that were set up when broadband was initially being implemented in the early 2000s. The main hurdle is that municipalities would have to pay about 50% of their revenues into a state fund, which doesn’t make it a very lucrative endeavor and is why it isn’t happening in communities. Unless those rules change, public-private partnerships are the way forward.
Well, what do we do? In my next blog, I’ll go into more detail about how current Internet Service Providers (ISPs) take advantage of the current rules, what positive things are being done in our state, and how we can make broadband expansion happen to every home in Nebraska!
I hope you have a happy & healthy holiday season—Cheers!