A broadband connection to the internet is increasingly seen as an essential service, similar to electricity. This has been particularly apparent with the need to communicate remotely during the ongoing pandemic. In fact, billions of dollars in grants have been released in recent months to assist in providing more people with access to broadband.
Some people are unable to connect to the internet simply because they cannot afford it. Those with low enough income are eligible to apply to the Federal Emergency Broadband Benefit for assistance in paying for access.
Here in Western North Carolina, many people lack access because the mountainous terrain blocks satellite reception and it is prohibitively expensive to lay fiber cable to isolated communities. A number of companies and organizations have worked diligently in recent years to offer additional options for our rural communities to gain access to broadband services.
However, an additional barrier exists in North Carolina, which can only be addressed by encouraging our State Legislature to change legislation which restricts competition among internet providers. The Broadband Market Failure is an article by Jack Cassidy in the Southern City Magazine; this article clearly describes the effects of this legislation.