The Politics of Broadband

The most recent U.S. election has, in many ways, refocused attention on rural America.  There have been numerous analyses by a diverse number of media and research outfits that all point back to a struggling rural America fighting to be heard by national (and sometimes state) politicians.  We’ve seen this struggle on a regular basis in the broadband access debate, but what strikes me is how clearly it’s been elevated to the national awareness.  I think the big question is what happens next for broadband.

Craig Settles has written and interesting piece discussing the election and his thoughts on next steps for communities interested in pursuing local options.  He notes early on that broadband appears to be a bipartisan issue at the local level, particularly given the success of community efforts in Colorado, and that efforts at the local level could ultimately prove more effective than waiting for federal or state action.

The other interesting thing that Settles notes is that while Republican governors and lawmakers have traditionally been less enthusiastic supporters of local control over network development, there are some that have started prioritizing rural broadband expansion efforts.  Some of these Republican executives, like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker who recently announced new initiatives to promote rural broadband, have the ear of the Vice-President elect… so maybe action at the federal level is not totally out of the realm of possibility.  We shall see.

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