Opinion

Trump's Focus On Rural Broadband Should Include Community-Owned Networks

By Robert Seamans

Headshot of Robert Seamans

If the Trump administration is serious about eliminating the digital divide, and helping provide broadband access to rural America, it could do more.

Yesterday while giving a speech in Tennessee, President Trump announced two executive orders designed to spur investment in rural broadband. One order instructs the Department of Interior to develop a plan to increase access to its towers and other infrastructure. The other order states an intention to maintain a law passed by Congress in 2012 to require the use of standardized forms and contracts for installing antennas on federal buildings.

If the Trump administration is serious about eliminating the digital divide, and helping provide broadband access to rural America, it could do more. And it could start right in Tennessee, by allowing Tennessee communities to build their own broadband. This is a simple solution that would promote competition between broadband providers and benefit consumers, but it is a solution currently banned or restricted in a number of states, including Tennessee.

Digital Divide and Benefits of Broadband

The president’s executive orders are designed to address the large gap in broadband access between urban and rural areas. This is an admirable goal, and a bipartisan one. The Obama administration also led a number of efforts to increase broadband access and reduce the digital divide, including ConnectED, ConnectHOME, and ConnectALL.

Read the full article as published by Forbes

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Robert Seamans is an Associate Professor of Management and Organizations.