Recently, the Times-Tribune wrote a rather sad story detailing how few residents could purchase broadband in both the city of Scranton and the state of Pennsylvania.
About one of every three households in Scranton has no Internet access, according to data compiled by PublicSource, an independent investigative news group in Pittsburgh. Statewide, 28 percent of households have no Internet access while nationwide, 26 percent do not, according to 2013 U.S. Census Bureau data. – The Times-Tribune
As the story notes, this isn’t just a problem in Pennsylvania. It is a nationwide problem. Some can’t afford it and others can’t get it. Due to a rising elderly and low-income population in the state along with significant parts of the state being rural, Pennsylvania has people on all sides that can’t get access to broadband.
Cities, such as those in Pennsylvania, have thought about creating their municipal networks but thanks to anti-competitive laws in Pennsylvania and 18 other states, there are limitations on what the cities can do with their municipal networks. In other states without the municipal network limitations, the ISP’s simply sue the city in the hopes of stopping any competition from entering their service areas.
What makes this story even more sad is that the entire state of Pennsylvania should already be wired with fiber. In 1994-1995, Verizon (then Bell Atlantic) was given $2.1 billion to give every resident in Pennsylvania “45Mbps symmetrical speeds to the door.” It is 2015 and Verizon has installed little fiber around the state with no plans of expansion. The money, though, was taken in full at the time of the agreement.
Don’t feel too bad for Pennsylvania. New Jersey gave Verizon $13 billion and got the same results. Little fiber, no expansion and money down the drain.