The drive to widen the digital divide

In summary

The American Legislative Exchange Council and telecoms are working in tandem to ensure consumers in California and the U.S. do not get access to world-class telecommunication services.

By Larry Ortega, Special to CalMatters

Larry Ortega is founder of Community Union Inc., a nonprofit corporation that trains consumers living in the digital divide, and a 35-year veteran of the technology sector.

For almost 30 years, America’s telecom companies have been receiving billions of dollars in rate increases and extra fees to finance the build-out of a national fiber optic network. Along the way, they discovered that such a network would hamper their opportunity to make a financial killing with wireless technology. So in 2010, they stopped upgrading phone customers with fiber optics, thus widening the digital divide and leaving millions of Americans unconnected.

This is not just another digital divide story about rural or inner-city residents who lack access to broadband services. This is a story about a skillfully thought-out, well-financed scheme that involves the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Koch Industries (the largest privately held company in the U.S.) and a gang of lobbyists joining forces to write legislation. 

This legislation would use the levers of state government to fast-track the deployment of an unregulated and a highly profitable wireless business. In state after state, the same political forces that are legislating away voting rights and increasing the power of corporations are pushing fast-track 5G legislation under the guise of fixing the digital divide.

https://calmatters.org/commentary/2021/10/the-drive-to-widen-the-digital-divide/

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