Cable And Rural Broadband: How Cable Plays a Critical Role in Closing the Digital Divide (2021)

By Kevin A. Noll, Vecima; Jay Rolls, Pacband; Patrick Ryan, Esri

Cable was birthed in rural America. Cable grew up in rural America. Cable is still rooted in rural America with many rural American households serviced by a cable operator. The US is facing a broadband equity crisis in which nearly 20% of Americans, primarily in rural communities, do not have access to reliable broadband Internet. Cable operators are uniquely positioned to solve this problem once and for all.

This report will explain why rural broadband, like rural electrification in the 1930’s and universal telephone service in the 1950’s, is the most important societal technology issue of our time.

The report will further explore why delivering broadband to rural Americans is perceived as a challenging engineering and fiscal problem and will explain how innovative approaches to engineering, materials, construction practices, and business modeling can overcome those challenges. The advantages and disadvantages of these innovative approaches will be discussed.

Today, funding sources have expanded to include federal and state grants, broadband funds, and county and municipality initiatives which, when coupled with public / private partnerships, can easily tip the balance to a faster return on investment. Finally, the paper will discuss the financial opportunities and incentives that enable universally accessible broadband Internet to become a reality

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