The United States has made great strides in recent years in the development and expansion of broadband. However, a lack of federal action and obstruction by telecommunications monopolies has stymied meaningful progress in many rural areas. Fortunately, innovative American tech companies are working to make sure that no one is left behind in the race to make broadband access ubiquitous across the country.
A recent example is work being done by Alphabet, the parent company of Google, in Iowa with its Google Fiber technology. Google has been working with the City of West Des Moines on a $60 million open access fiber optic conduit. Once finished, any internet service provider will be able to compete for the open access network, bringing competition to the local economy in addition to expanded internet access. It’s a crucial development for both business and internet access in the state, where 27.3% of residents still have no available personal internet access.
This kind of joint venture between a private company and a municipality is proven to drive the expansion of broadband internet in underserved communities. According to a recent study conducted by The Copia Institute, a think tank that studies digital innovation, assistance from companies like Google is helping drive organic broadband growth in thousands of communities previously constricted by telecom monopolies and a lack of government action.
That kind of work can only continue if Google and other tech companies can operate without interference from adverse federal legislation. Federal legislation that would regulate tech companies, like the American Innovation Choice Online Act (AICOA), would have made it much harder for tech companies to provide Americans with access to popular products and services. The ensuing debate around that legislation and the long list of unintended consequences that would have resulted from passage of that bill serve as a warning to Congress as they pursue legislative and regulatory action in other areas.
Broadband access in rural areas is one of the biggest challenges facing Americans today. Thanks to work from companies like Google, the challenge is a little less daunting than before.