Several years ago, America was a gigabit desert. No American communities had the prospect for the world-leading broadband enjoyed in Korea, Japan, and Sweden. Now, with Google and AT&T negotiating to build such networks in dozens of communities and with others now stepping up, America may soon enjoy a gigabit garden.
Of course there’s a wrinkle.
Many factors could derail the progress. One is a complaint sometimes raised when Google, in particular, starts negotiating with a community. The complaint? The new investment will create a digital divide because Google does not commit to connect every neighborhood. The argument, while sometimes well-intentioned, ignores history, economics, and the reality of the digital divide. Moreover, its proponents fail to acknowledge the consequences of their arguments.