Opinion: A modern approach to a modern Georgia problem

If you live 100 miles from Atlanta, odds are you won’t read this column in print. If you live much farther than that, there’s a decent chance you literally don’t have the bandwidth for it.

As our lives and economy become inexorably more digital, urban and suburban Georgians may take ubiquitous high-speed internet for granted. Not so in rural Georgia. Wide swaths of the state might as well be extraterrestrials when it comes to the (ahem) World Wide Web. They may have dial-up internet, but imagine comforting yourself with that consolation the next time you roll your eyes at a web page taking 10 whole seconds to load.

That’s why members of the House Rural Development Council spent half of their first meeting, last week in Tifton, discussing the obstacles to full deployment of broadband statewide.

There’s a line of thought that, because broadband is vital 21st-century infrastructure for commerce, government should provide it where the private sector can’t or won’t. Government has promoted traditional commerce via roads, canals, ports, railroad tracks and airports, the thinking goes, so it ought to do the same for e-commerce.

There is, however, a qualitative difference due to rapid technological change. Buy and clear land to lay asphalt, and it’s not just that the asphalt will last in some cases for decades; resurfacing the road is a lot like the original construction.

Rolls of fiber optic cable wait to be laid at a development (which is not in rural Georgia).

That’s not necessarily true for broadband. What once required stringing fiber-optic cable over long distances — at the cost of as much as $18,000 per mile (done aerially on utility poles) or even $40,000 per mile (if buried underground) — could soon be accomplished wirelessly to a far greater extent. Wiring every residence with miles of fiber may become as obsolete as an 8-track player.

Might a more logical comparison be rural electrification? While some materials might need to be upgraded one day, they could be used for a generation before then. Much of the cost concerns right-of-way, so publicly subsidizing the initial deployment could make it economical for the private sector to assume later expenses.

But here, too, the analogy breaks down. When FDR launched rural electrification in 1935, just 10 percent of rural Americans had electricity — and in Georgia then, 70 percent of the population lived in rural areas. Something like two-thirds of Georgians (if we include city residents without electricity) lacked a utility that made possible the 20th century as we knew it.

The broadband situation is different. An estimated 9 percent of Georgia households lack access to high-speed internet (the various definitions of “broadband,” and issues with measuring access that are too complicated to recount here, make the exact number elusive). That’s a significant, but much smaller, proportion. The private sector has been much more effective this time around.

No, the most likely solution is to get government out of the way.

Industry representatives who addressed the lawmakers in Tifton, though competitors in many parts of the state, largely agree about what would help. One is cutting taxes on materials and equipment used to deploy broadband, as most other states (with which we compete for these private investments) have done. Another is more controversial: Lowering fees for stringing fiber on poles owned by municipal utilities and EMCs, which charge two to three times as much as Georgia Power.

The third is where this topic touches other subjects the council will mull, if lawmakers allow themselves some creativity.

In rural areas, just four of every 10 households with access to broadband actually subscribes to the service. A higher uptake rate would make the economics of rural broadband more practical for service providers. And it just might be worthwhile to subsidize service for lower-income Georgians, rural or urban.

Consider two examples. Telemedicine is increasingly sophisticated and, conceivably, could cut the state’s Medicaid costs enough to offset any broadband subsidies needed to make it possible. And while Georgia’s public schools are already wired for high-speed internet, it may be that wider use of online instruction would generate enough savings to subsidize broadband in students’ homes.

Those latter possibilities are far from proven. But they represent the kind of holistic thinking that could yield a true 21st-century solution to this 21st-century problem.

Reader Comments 0

344 comments
Cupofjoe
Cupofjoe

Americans killed in America by white supremacy trash:  2


Americans killed in America by gangs:  "oh never mind" 

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

The LibProgs disparaged Trump's Middle East visit but it is already showing benefits.

Saudi Arabia is now forcing Qatar to chose between other ME countries that are aligned with the USA or Iran.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@JohnnyReb 

All the radical terrorists that are pulling off attacks in the west are Sunni Muslims.  ISIS is a Sunni outfit, and 40% of its members are Saudi citizens.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@breckenridge @JohnnyReb

And Trump convincing the Saudi's to get on-board with curtailing the radicals is another piece of the fine work he is doing there.

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

@JohnnyReb This has nothing to do with terrorism against Western countries.  The largest U.S. base in the Middle East is in Qatar.  They are one of our biggest allies.  This has to do with the Iranian/Saudi Arabian conflict going on.  Both are and have been helping fight ISIS in a major way.

breckenridge
breckenridge

August 8, 2016 -  Fifty of the nation’s most senior Republican national security officials have signed a letter declaring that Donald J. Trump  “lacks the character, values and experience” to be president and “would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.”

And how right they were.  Oh, I suppose the foaming at the mouth stupid loser radical right extremists might call them RINOs.  But that bunch aren't real conservatives anyway.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@JohnnyReb @breckenridge 

You want to focus on Hillary Clinton instead of the disaster that is this piece of dogchit you helped elect.  You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@breckenridge @JohnnyReb

I can chew gum and walk at the same time.

You?

What will be Hillarious about all this is, Trump will walk away from all the investigations insisted by the Dems without charges while Hillary goes to jail.

breckenridge
breckenridge

As of yesterday, Trump's approval rating is at 37%, according to the latest Gallup poll.



JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@breckenridge @JohnnyReb

Yep, he's doing great.

And, I don't need a polling company to show me.

All I have to do is look at the outrage from the Left.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

Investigation showed 5 other people printed the same top secret information that Reality Winner printed and mailed to The Intercept.

Reports have not yet expanded on investigation of those 5, where, why, etc?

Winner is facing 10 years in prison.

Maybe she can share a cell with Hillary.

Or would that cross the line of cruel and unusual punishment? 

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

Hillary may soon find her loss to Trump was not the upmost traumatic event.

The Senate has kicked off an investigation of her time as SOS and the foundation.

Lock her up. 

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

Reality Winner

Oxymoron personified.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

The 25-year-old woman who stole “Top Secret” documents from the National Security Agency and leaked them to The Intercept appears to be a supporter of Bernie Sanders and other progressive icons, such as Bill Maher and Michael Moore.


No kidding?


Winner was indicted in federal court on Monday after she allegedly stole classified documents from her employer, Pluribus International, a defense contractor that does work for the NSA from its offices in Augusta, Ga.


I think our first hurdle would be getting the moonbats out of the intelligence stream. You know?

breckenridge
breckenridge

June 5 - For the last three quarters of a century, the question, “Who is the leader of the Free World?” inevitably was answered by giving the name of the president of the United States. Since World War II, America’s leader -- Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and so on -- was viewed as the person in charge of the non-communist half of the globe. His counterpart in the bilateral world of yesteryear was the guy who ran the Kremlin. 

Following the fall of the U.S.S.R. and rise of China, bilateral has become multilateral, but the “first among equals” position of the president of the United States continued to be the norm. Until now.

The new leader of the Free World? The chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@breckenridge

Look, us Cons are  use to you guys being wishy-washy but get your act together on the narrative, will you?

Last week it was China who had become the leader.

This week Germany.

Who next week?

breckenridge
breckenridge

Well if you're the London mayor the Trump visit to England will offer the opportunity to even the score by kicking him square in the nuts.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

73 years ago today, tens of thousands of brave American and Allied soldiers boarded their landing craft and embarked into the cold, fearful night, full of prayers to the man, readying themselves to storm ashore, under heavy fire, so that they could get their jollies killing innocent women and children.*


*The monkey lib version of the D-day landings.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@AndyManUSA#45 The pathetic, but also appalling and dishonorable falsification of the viewpoint of the political opponents by the dishonorable and pathetic IReport.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@AndyManUSA#45 

It seems as though you're trying to make some point, the same point you made last night.  Of course it's completely nonsense, but do carry on.

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

"Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness."

1 John 2:9

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

@AndyManUSA#45 @JFMcNamara I have never lied.  I presented facts backed up with links.  I did not call names and I did not disparage troops.  You put those words in my mouth because you could not accept that the U.S. army has killed a lot of civilians. 

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

Megyn Kelly's debut on NBC came in third behind a 60 Minutes rerun in last evenings ratings.

We are blessed with multiple programs from which to chose, so I don't have to watch her.  Nonetheless, failure couldn't happen to a more deserving skirt. 

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@JohnnyReb


I would hold off the celebration just yet. Sunday night is not going to be her usual spot. She's easing into a prime time role. But why the dislike, because she confronted the great Trump. Dissenters have a role in our proud country.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@McGarnagle @JohnnyReb

I'm not one who usually carries a grudge, but in her case an extreme dislike.

I'm still wishing for Eric Erickson to become a used car salesman and like him better than Kelly.


AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

No kidding, cnn doesn't report it, so it doesn't exist in the minds of the monkey liberals.


Three people are dead following a rampage by a terrorist shooter who shouted "Allah Akbar!" before he was arrested and taken into custody by police. Terrorist shooter, Kori Ali Muhammad, 39 has shot and killed three people outside a Motel 6 in central Fresno, in California.



JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@AndyManUSA#45 

There's a pattern with these terrorists.

Just can't quite put my finger on it.

Anyone have a suggestion?


DeepStateDawg
DeepStateDawg

@JohnnyReb @DeepStateDawg @AndyManUSA#45 It won't go over well with the families of the folks killed yesterday in Orlando either... Are you going to call for a "war on workplace violence?"


That would be a pretty fun exercise. See if you can find the statistics behind the number of American citizens killed due to workplace violence in the past five years, and compare that to acts of terrorism. 


Then let's compare/contrast. 

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

President Trump is a lot more Conservative then shrub ever was. He's more Conservative then the republican US Congress, foot wiping doormats for the liberal agenda, by a long shot. Conservatives don't grow a gigantic government and then go around killing unborn babies with it.


Just sayin.

breckenridge
breckenridge

 You are really liberal, pun intended, with the name calling.

Once again you are defining conservatism by your radical standards.  Trumpism is not conservatism.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@breckenridge

You're not even close.

That line was in reference to you calling anyone and everything that does not agree with you a disparaging name.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@JohnnyReb @breckenridge 

The reason I called you a racist and a bigot is because I absolutely believe 100% that you are both of those things based on your posting history over the past several years.  I was not attempting to disparage you in the least, it was simply an assessment of who you really are.

breckenridge
breckenridge

Through 5 months and 4 days of 2016:


Americans killed in America by radical Islamic terrorists:  0


Americans killed in America by white supremacy trash:  2


Next.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

Here's the unfortunate thing on the travel ban.

SCOTUS will find for Trump.

LibProgs wont' accept it, like they can't accept Hillary lost, have some completely BS theory Trump stole the election with Russia's help, etc.

We will hear again how Garland should have gotten the Scalia seat and if he had the ruling would have gone against Trump.

All this proving and demonstrating that the Left's outrage when Trump would not state he would concede if Hillary won -- which was asked at a debate in hopes he would state same and it could be broadcast before the election that Trump conceded -- was a tell on the Democrats that will go down in political history as the most hysterical transfer of power in our history. 

Caius
Caius

@JohnnyReb What is the legal reasoning that would cause the SCOTUS to find for the Administration?

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

@JohnnyReb At this point, continuing with the ban is stupid.  The original ban was for 120 days with the understanding that it was temporary while they implemented extreme vetting.    


We are now 147 days into the administration and extreme vetting should be in place.  If the ideas really was to pause immigration while beefing up the immigration system, then that excuse is no longer valid.

DeepStateDawg
DeepStateDawg

@JohnnyReb I think you're obsessed with claiming that Democrats are obsessed with Hillary losing. 


Fact of the matter is that Hillary was a very flawed candidate and was not able to generate enough confidence to carry her base. 


IMHO, this Trump thing is a better outcome than Hillary. Simple reason being that if Hillary gets elected then the GOP can just continue blame-storming instead of governing.


As it stands, with the GOP running the country, they're basically left to just whine about the media and the minority party.... as opposed to actually governing, that is. 


We're not even five months in, and the entire world is tired of the man. Three and a half more years of this and America will have a pretty good read on the difference between complaining about government and actually running a country.