Promoting Fair Local Organizing for Broadband Delivery: Suggestions for Community-Level Action in Persistently Underserved Communities
31 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2012 Last revised: 6 Sep 2012
Date Written: March 30, 2012
Despite a wealth of research on broadband proliferation across rural and urban areas, the well-researched digital divide still persists in many rural communities, hindering social, community, and economic development. Policy remedies like the 2009 Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) have improved broadband development in some areas, while other areas continue to be underserved, or served only by expensive and insufficient broadband options. The continued persistence of the divide challenges policy assumptions about the universality of coverage through federal and state-level initiatives, and brings the focus of successful broadband development to the community level.
This paper presents the results of a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)-funded research project conducted in Maine, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, intended to uncover community-level factors that have either encouraged or inhibited independent, local broadband network development in persistently underserved communities. Evidence is presented from six study sites across the three states illustrating a variety of delivery strategies, and underscoring the role of communities, culture, and local institutions in the network development process. The paper develops a series of alternative policy ideas and suggestions for supporting and promoting successful local initiatives, designed specifically to enhance citizen-driven efforts in persistently underserved areas.
Keywords: community broadband, digital divide, critical infrastructure, economic risk, local organizing, public goods, municipal delivery, public-private partnership
JEL Classification: H43, H79, O18, O32, O38, R58
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation