An article recently published by the Erie Times and GoErie.com, tells us: Broadband Deserts Leave PA Farms Far Behind Neighbors, but is it true? Certainly many farms and households in rural areas are not connected to the internet at high speed, but it doesn’t mean there are no options available right now.
Government to the rescue
For years federal and state governments have studied the issue, making maps, making speeches, making promises and yet nothing much has really happened. Now they’re promising to spend money. They know how to do that:
The federal government has allocated approximately $1.5 billion for high-speed internet in Pennsylvania, according to the state’s Department of Community and Economic Development.
About $1.16 billion is provided through the federal Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program, also known as B.E.A.D. The state also has received $279 million from the Capital Projects Fund and $6.6 million in federal planning funds.
All they have to do is come up with an infrastructure plan, get bids, hire the contractors, do a lot of digging to run the fiber optic cables and make connections to all of the homes and farms. As a result, “rural Pennsylvanians could see expanded internet options as early as 2025.” “Owners of Pennsylvania’s 57,000-plus farms (without broadband) hope their properties make the cut.”
Well, that’s one option.
On the other hand, Starlink, the satellite internet service launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, has been rapidly expanding and now covers the entire United States. A few small holes exist, but in Pennsylvania, we’re covered. Starlink costs $120/mo in most locations with a hardware cost of $599.
Really Simple arithmetic
What’s 57,000 farmers times $599 to connect? Pencils down. It’s $34,143,000. Let’s see, there’s $1.5 billion available in PA for high speed internet, so after connecting all of the 57,000 farms, we still have $1,465,857,000.
$120 per month for one year of internet service is $1440. So 57,000 farms times $1440 for an entire year of internet is $82,080,000. Subtract that from the remaining balance above and everyone is connected for one year with $1,383,777,000 still left.
In round numbers, we can provide every one of the 57,000 “broadband desert” farms with free broadband internet for an entire year and still have almost $1.4 billion left over from the original $1.5 billion the government is ready to spend. And we can start right now, no bids, no digging, just place the orders. Start tomorrow and many of those farmers could be surfing the web in weeks.
Of course, any of these farms can order Starlink on their own and be connected as soon as their equipment arrives, no government program necessary.
Why wait for the government?
Broadband deserts don’t exist unless you insist on waiting for a fiber optic cable to run by your home or business. For those who can’t afford it, the government could provide Starlink with a tiny fraction of the money already allocated.
We didn’t run phone lines to everyone’s pocket so they could carry a smartphone and you don’t need fiber to get broadband internet. Broadband is available right now. The government wants you to wait so they can ride to your rescue, but the government can’t ride to your rescue if you don’t need their help. Help yourself.