Wired or wireless, with the proliferation of the Internet, mobile phones, communication devices, and wireless networks we are rapidly moving from a world of simple voice communication and isolated desktop computing to an interconnected world of networked communities and anytime/anywhere connectedness where everyone and everything is connected. The Network will operate everywhere, connecting people and devices seamlessly. -Living in a Networked World-Computer Systems Policy Project
Advanced Telecom and Broadband Deployment In Arizona
Arizona needs to adopt a strategy to accelerate deployment of affordable broadband Internet access throughout the State. Broadband telecom is a critical infrastructure essential to the educational, economic, health, welfare, safety, and community development of Arizona’s communities.
In recent years Arizona has seen improvement in its broadband landscape. The greater metropolitan areas have an increasing broadband options. Many rural communities, however, do not have access to broadband last-mile services such as cable modem, DSL, or wireless.Despite their urgent need for broadband, only 78 percent of Arizonan’s have access to the internet in their home (2). Approximately 898,724 Arizona citizens—mostly in rural and tribal communities—have limited or no access to high-speed internet, creating a digital divide between communities that can or cannot participate in global opportunities for education and economy.
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 2016 Broadband Progress Report (3), 13 percent of Arizona’s total population still does not have broadband access; of the population lacking such access, 410,794, or 63 percent, reside in rural areas. Meanwhile, 95 percent of the tribal population has no broadband access. (Extracted from the Arizona Broadband Plan 2018)
In the Networked World, it is not enough to have just basic broadband service, but many rural communities do not have the infrastructure to support advanced broadband deployment. Many rural Arizona communities still lack consistent coverage of basic broadband services and lack high capacity services. Of the rural communities that have services, many still face middle and last-mile deficits, experiencing higher service costs, making it unaffordable to end users. Many of these rural communities also experience a lack of redundancy to and from their community in order to maintain connectivity in the event of network casualties.
Because advanced broadband telecom services are either not consistently available, or is not affordable, communities in need of economic development and revitalization lack the necessary infrastructure to grow existing, and start/attract new, businesses. Not only are the infrastructure and services not available for the businesses that drive the local economies, they are also unavailable to residents, educational facilities, critical services such as police and fire, health care institutions and government offices. Therefore, many rural communities have limited access to advanced applications such as eLearning, telemedicine and e-Government. For them the digital divide just gets wider.