House Panel Told Broadband Policies Should Not Worsen Urban/Rural Divide

September 11, 2019 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – A far-reaching broadband connectivity should not be dictated by the location of a home or business, but rather should foster economic growth and sustainable communities by being equally accessible by all.

That was the overarching message delivered to the House Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Infrastructure during a recent field trip to the University of Maine.

Arranged by Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, the subcommittee’s chairman, and its ranking member, Rep. Pete Stauber, R-Minn., the bipartisan Sept. 6 session with small business in the state couldn’t have come at a more critical moment.

Currently about 83,000 homes and business across the state don’t have access to broadband internet service. Despite this, just last month, the Maine legislature failed to pass a bond proposal that included $15 million for broadband expansion.

Rep. Golden said at the outset that he hoped hearing attendees would identify potential changes Congress could make to improve small business connectivity.

We’re going to find the solutions that will help us connect more small businesses in rural Maine with high-speed broadband in places like Baileyville, Machias, and Roque Bluffs, not in Washington,” Golden said.

“That’s why it’s so important that we bring Congress to Washington County, where small businesses and towns are doing the hard work — and succeeding — to build the broadband infrastructure their communities need,” he said.

Stauber said it’s plain to see that with fast and reliable broadband access, even the smallest towns and communities can compete with the rest of the world.

“I am committed to closing the digital divide between our urban and rural communities as broadband is vital to the success of every small business, school, hospital, and family,” he said. “I am thankful to be working with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle on this issue. Together, we can ensure every American small business and family has access to dependable broadband.”

Among those who addressed the committee was Mary Hanscom, a local selectwoman who also happens to own a family-run blueberry farm.

Hanscom, who also runs a pair of Airbnb rentals, said she is currently forced to use an “inadequate” internet to advertise blueberry products and interact with rental customers.

“When my internet service has slowed, as it inevitably does at night, I have lost connections with my Airbnb customers,” she said. “This happens on a regular basis. Have I lost those customers? I don’t know. But clearly this quality of communication is not conducive to positive business interactions.

“There are many more of me – farmers, fisherman, lobster sellers — who either are paying exorbitant prices for better connectivity or are struggling to make this inadequate technology work for them,” she continued. “In Roque Bluffs, we had residents who planned to run their businesses out of their homes but who sold those homes because their internet service was so slow.”

While Hanscom said she appreciated the subcommittee’s focus on small business, she reminded them that “few businesses exist in isolation.”

“They are integral parts of communities,” she said. “Creating a business friendly community means keeping young people from moving away, attracting new working age residents, and creating an educated workforce. This requires broadband not only at work but at home for students and for employees and their families.

“The ‘last mile’ problem is not literally one mile, but many. Most small, rural communities lack a broadband network altogether. The problem is not the single mile down the driveway to the road, it is extending the network over many miles to provide service on the road itself. Once the network has been extended, providing service to all customers, not just small businesses, becomes economical,” Hanscom added.

Mark Ouellette, president and CEO of Axiom Technologies, a broadband service provider whose customers include some of the hardest to reach in the state, said whatever the committee decides to do, it must make sure its solution bridges, rather than worsens the urban/rural divide.

“All small businesses are not created equally,” he said. “A job created or retained in a rural community can have an oversized impact.”

Next, the government needs to stop investing in outdated and unscalable technology, and needs to spend more time focusing on the reliability of the technology is does deploy.

Lastly, Quellette noted that bridging the digital divide means more than providing homes and businesses with a good connection.

“It requires educating subscribers how to leverage their connection through digital literacy teaching and classes,” he said. ” The federal government can play an outsized role in educating  citizens and municipalities on how to better leverage a broadband connection.”

Technology

Supreme Court Steps Into Google-Oracle Copyright Fight
Supreme Court Steps Into Google-Oracle Copyright Fight
November 18, 2019
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court agreed Friday to decide a long-running copyright dispute between technology giants Oracle and Google. The case stems from Google’s development of its hugely popular Android operating system by using Oracle’s Java programming language. Oracle claims Google owes it roughly $8 billion... Read More

‘Hidden Figures’ to Receive Congressional Gold Medals Science
‘Hidden Figures’ to Receive Congressional Gold Medals

Four historic “hidden figures” from NASA Langley Research Center will receive Congressional Gold Medals for their pioneering work during the space race and beyond. A bipartisan bill recognizing Katherine Johnson, Christine Darden, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson for their groundbreaking exploits as among the first black... Read More

Zuckerberg Threatened With Facebook Breakup Congress
Zuckerberg Threatened With Facebook Breakup

WASHINGTON — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced a threat to break up his company as a congressional hearing opened on the social media giant’s proposal to establish a cryptocurrency, Libra. The cryptocurrency proposal drew scrutiny due to Facebook Inc.’s enormous base of more than 2 billion... Read More

Russia-Linked Group Likely Used Iranian Hacking Tools, NSA Says Cybersecurity
Russia-Linked Group Likely Used Iranian Hacking Tools, NSA Says

WASHINGTON — A Russia-linked group is believed to have utilized Iranian tools to conduct cyber attacks against dozens of countries, in an apparent effort to mask their identities, according to joint advisories by the U.S. and the U.K. The group, known as Turla, used tools from... Read More

Ending Broadcast TV Blackouts at Center of STELAR Reauthorization Congress
Ending Broadcast TV Blackouts at Center of STELAR Reauthorization
October 23, 2019
by Sean Trambley

With what seems like an annual tradition, consumers flip on their TV to catch a playoff game or some other “must see TV” program only to find the station blacked out in the pay TV provider’s lineup because the provider can’t reach an agreement with the... Read More

Theranos 2.0? Another Purported Tech Company Trades on Fake IP Opinions
Theranos 2.0? Another Purported Tech Company Trades on Fake IP

Intellectual property policies could get a major court test this year as a real estate services company appeals a massive $706 million judgment that it stole trade secrets from a San Francisco-headquartered REtech company. At the dispute’s onset, the jury award, handed down in, Texas court... Read More

Straight From The Well
scroll top