(Please note that although this blog clearly promotes the build out and use of fiber for the vast majority of our Internet and Telecommunications needs, the author in NO way supports the use of this fiber for the build out of wireless small cells. Hopefully, as people become more informed about the harms of wireless, innovations will increasingly make use of safe, fast, reliable, energy efficient and cyber secure fiber. Not wireless.)
Most everyone agrees that the Internet is now a public necessity. The Federal Communications Commission states
, “Broadband has gone from being a luxury to a necessity for full participation in our economy and society.” But Telecom won’t deliver on it – at least not to everyone.
High speed Internet, aka fiber, is costly and somewhat cumbersome to build, so the private sector has now shifted to peddling 5G. Instead of installing the promised fiber we have paid for through rate increases and taxes, In urban areas,Telecom is laying fiber to utility poles and then spraying the data through the air on a panoply of frequencies. Why? Because it’s cheaper and easier that way. Never mind the harms to us and the planet; and no worries about closing the digital divide.
People in rural America must choose between wireless hot spots or satellite, neither of which provides reliable high speed broadband.
“After years of waiting, it is now evident that ‘left to their own devices’, companies will gouge the rich, leave out the poor, cherry-pick markets and focus solely on their profits. It isn’t evil, it’s just the way things work.” Susan Crawford
Why Don’t We Have Fiber Yet?
The over-arching reason we don’t yet have fiber to all homes and businesses is that our government believes a free market should drive the development of technology. According to FCC Chair Ajit Pai “The market, not government, is best positioned to drive innovation and investment.” So essentially, a
s stated by Harvard law professor, Susan Crawford
, “The mega-utility of the 21st century officially has no regulator.”
Since no one is overseeing these companies and scrutinizing the books, there’s quite a bit of wiggle room – and wiggling they’ve done as Bruce Kushnick has documented. They’ve wiggled all the way from delivering fiber to essentially reneging on contracts and peddling wireless instead. This includes the current mad rush to deploy 4G/5G “small” cell antennas in front of our homes.
So if the private sector isn’t delivering on fiber, municipalities can build their own publicly owned fiber network. But no. Unfortunately, Telecom’s got these bases covered as well. As of 2018, twenty states have laws that discourage publicly owned fiber networks. And this includes discouraging even public/private partnerships, which when well planned, can be a win/win for all parties: the city, the partnering telecom company, and the public as described here. And when the FCC did give an exemption from state laws that prohibit municipalities from building their own fiber network, the exemption was shot down by a court ruling. As stated in Dividing Lines, “Big Telecom and their friends in state and federal legislatures are finding creative ways to keep the status quo.”
Defining Our Terms – Motte and Bailey Strategy?
What is meant by bringing “high speed Internet” ?
The powers that be identify something most people can agree on: High speed Internet should be accessible to all – which many of us understand to mean everyone should have access to fiber. But industry/government interpret this to mean we all must have 4G/5G wireless densification in front of our homes in order to serve everyone with high speed broadband. But fiber and wireless are not equivalent or interchangeable services.
Fiber is great for fixed locations such as a home or a business as it’s super fast, safe, and reliable.
Wireless can be used when out and about for short on-the-go communications, and texting, but is poorly suited for video streaming due to the huge energy consumption of wireless
, and is not clearly not reliable enough for remote surgery (“Sorry, can’t suture you just yet, there’s a bit of precipitation!”).
“Fiber is safer, faster, more reliable, and far more energy efficient and cyber secure than wireless.” Ronald M. Powell Ph.D.
Beyond the different uses for fiber and wireless, there are other core differences that make fiber far superior to wireless. Fiber has virtually unlimited bandwidth and once laid, can last decades with little to no maintenance. But more importantly, thousands of scientific studies show adverse health effects from wireless and hundreds of studies show harm to wildlife as well. (For more on health please see https://mdsafetech.org,)
So when our government addresses the digital divide by installing Wi-Fi on school buses
for children can do their homework, this is a clear example of an inadequate solution for bridging the digital divide. Wi-Fi on school buses is a far cry from providing fiber to the homes of these children. Not only does this ridiculous “fix” expose children to harmful radiation while enclosed in a metal box (think bus!) but it robs children of the few precious moments they still have for face-to-face communication with their peers. Similarly, 5G is a poor fix for rural America…or for that matter, for urban America as well.
We must bring health and the environment into the discussion of why fiber is far superior to wireless, or we may end up “closing the digital divide” by causing as much harm to those in rural America as those in cities are being subjected to now with 4G/5G. Bringing high speed broadband to rural America should not be about incentivizing the private sector through subsidies to bring 5G uniformly to all areas. It should be about delivering safe, fast, reliable fiber to everyone, everywhere.
“Closing the digital divide” must be done by delivering safe, fast, and reliable fiber to all, and not offering makeshift and harmful solutions such as WiFi on buses, 5G, satellite, or wireless hot spots.
We don’t just want any kind of high speed Internet for all. We want fiber which is safe for us and for the planet.