What is "Broadband"?
"Broadband" is a term referring to access to high speed internet. In our technological age, high speed internet access is an essential pillar of a community's social and industrial infrastructure. Much like the physical railroads and highways connected cities and towns and brought industry, broadband is an essential tool for connecting a community to the rest of the world.
While broadband has historically been highly accessible in urban areas, the rural areas of the country have struggled to gain that same access. For rural landowners, broadband access could have an incredible effect on the value of their land due to the economic improvement and opportunity it can provide to rural communities. Broadband access is the key to connectivity, and can be essential in generating economic diversity and development by providing wider access to international markets.
The Federal Communications Commission has been attempting to expand broadband access to rural areas and has just green-lit a 20 billion dollar subsidy in order to incentivize companies to provide broadband services to under-served communities across the nation.
There are as many as 19 million people in the United States that still lack access to broadband, and rural communities are far less likely to be served. While Florida has a relatively positive track record for providing broadband, there are still areas of Florida that are under-served. In some of the more rural counties in the state such as Dixie County, more than 50 percent of the population lacks access.
One way in which Florida lawmakers could help to expand broadband to rural Florida is by expediting the construction permit and zoning review processes. Making the processes faster and easier would incentivize tech companies to invest in updating existing broadband infrastructure that would help expand the reach of broadband within the state.
While the new subsidies from the FCC should assist in generating interest from tech companies to expand rural broadband access, making the process easier for companies would mean providing essential broadband access to communities that are desperately in need.