Broadband internet as a public utility

 

The Internet has changed the way we live our daily lives. In less than two decades we’ve become connected in ways we could have never imagined. This has led to great leaps forward in technology, education, arts and entertainment–our appliances and cars are increasingly more reliant on internet connectivity. We have reached the point where having access to the Internet is almost a must. But for many, access is not so easy. Broadband Internet connectivity is expensive and in Johnson county there is little to no competition and just a couple companies hold a virtual monopoly on access. Compared to other areas our size, the options and speeds are no competitive. Broadband Internet access drives economic growth. It’s time for Johnson County to lead. We need to partner with our community stakeholders and find a solution that will give everyone in Johnson County access to free or low-cost broadband Internet access.

Here’s what we need to do:
  • Study President Obama’s research into Community-based Broadband Solutions published in 2015 and formulate a plan to bring fast, low-cost broadband to our communities.
  • We need to study and implement initiatives to bring broadband service to our rural areas.
    It’s a lot of work, but with effort and cooperation between the county and municipalities we can make the changes we need.
  • Form a county-wide Task Force on Connectivity.

Lack of access is quickly becoming a social justice issue as more and more of our education programs rely on the internet. As an education hub, we can lead in outreach and access and help lift up those who struggle using technology as a tool, not a barrier.