February 06, 2014
Communities in Kansas Voicing the Need for Faster Internet
By Michael Guta
TMCnet Contributing Writer
The initiative Google (News - Alert) introduced to provide Americans with high-speed broadband has had a positive impact in the market. By introducing Google Fiber, the company has in essence forced other organizations to make the same technology available around the country. While this move has been positive, rural communities with a limited customer base are being left out because the infrastructure investment required to provide the service is not profitable for private companies. Residents in Fort Scott, Kansas held a Broadband Speed Improvement meeting in order to address this issue in the city and surrounding areas.
As report by Jason E. Silvers on the Fort Scott Tribune, the meeting was held at Fort Scott Community College to discuss the challenges the rural community as a whole faces in achieving broadband speeds.
Community residents including economic development and business members addressed their concerns regarding the negative impact of not having broadband speeds. This includes the lack of economic development in the region because companies looking for this type of technology will look elsewhere.
The report by Silvers points out there is fiber optic infrastructure in the region, but service providers have to tap into the backbone and start providing services. A glaring problem that has been highlighted by this meeting is the lack of awareness of what is available in the region. Finding local providers who want to access fiber backbone seems to be a problem that is greatly hindering Fort Scott and the other communities from receiving broadband service.
In related news regarding broadband technology, the Kansas state legislature is considering a bill that would prohibit municipalities from building out their own broadband networks. The Municipal Communications Network and Private Telecommunications Investment Safeguards Act will make it almost impossible for something like Google Fiber to get deployed if it passes. Google's entry into this market has upset established companies who were essentially the only players providing this technology.
The lack of competition that was in place before Google seems to be what Kansas legislatures are trying to go back to. In 2013 legislators in Georgia were attempting to pass a similar bill to bar municipal broadband deployments in the state, but it failed to pass.
Politicians should be encouraging more competition in their state by introducing more innovation and better prices for their citizens instead of handicapping their ability to improve their lives with this technology.
Edited by Cassandra Tucker
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