USA Falling Behind on 5G and Doing it Wrong Besides

Not only are we deploying it more slowly than China and others but we're doing it in a way that will live behind rural Americans.

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Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democratic commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission, has a stark warning. She starts with background that should surprise none of us, given the hype around the subject:

[T]he next generation of essential infrastructure in this country will be built using wireless technology. As a result, the next iteration of wireless service—5G—is truly important for our future civic and commercial life. With as much as 100 times the speed as current generation wireless networks and reduced latency, we can use wireless data to enhance our interactions with the world around us and create new opportunities in manufacturing, transportation, health care, education, agriculture, and more. It will support new services that will drive economic growth and job creation for years to come.

—Wired, “CHOOSING THE WRONG LANE IN THE RACE TO 5G

Again, we knew that. But that’s about the extent of what I know.

Rosenworcel says we’re falling way behind the rest of the world because we’re making bad choices.

The most important input in our new wireless world is spectrum, or the invisible airwaves that are used to send and receive the radio signals that power wireless communications. For decades, slices of spectrum have been reserved for different uses, from television broadcasting to military radar. But today demands on our airwaves have grown. So the Federal Communications Commission has been working to clear these airwaves of old uses and auction them so they can be repurposed for new 5G service.

But not all spectrum is created equal. The traditional sweet spot for wireless service has been in what we call low-band or mid-band spectrum. This is between 600 MHz and 3 GHz. For a long time, these airwaves were considered beachfront property because they send signals far. In other words, they cover wide areas but require little power to do so. This makes them especially attractive for service in rural areas, where technology that can reach more people with less infrastructure makes greater economic sense.

For 5G, however, the United States has focused on making high-band spectrum the core of its early 5G approach. These airwaves, known as “millimeter wave,” are way, way up there—above 24 GHz. They have never been used in cellular networks before, and for good reason—they don’t send signals very far and are easily blocked by walls. That means they are very expensive to build out. On the flip side, these airwaves offer a lot more capacity, which translates into ultrafast speeds.

The United States is alone in this mission to make millimeter wave the core of its domestic 5G networks. The rest of the world is taking a different approach. Other nations vying for wireless leadership are not putting high-band airwaves front and center now. Instead, they are focusing on building 5G networks with mid-band spectrum, because it will support faster, cheaper, and more ubiquitous 5G deployment.

[…]

By ceding international leadership when it comes to developing 5G in the mid-band, we miss the benefits of scale and face higher costs and interoperability challenges. It also means less security as other nations’ technologies proliferate. Indeed, the most effective thing the United States can do in the short term to enhance the security of 5G equipment is make mid-band spectrum available, which will spur a broader market for more secure 5G equipment that will also benefit other countries that are pursuing mid-band deployments.

By auctioning only high-band spectrum, we also risk worsening the digital divide that already plagues so many rural communities in the United States. That’s because recent commercial launches of 5G service across the country are confirming what we already know—that commercializing millimeter wave will not be easy or cheap, given its propagation challenges. The network densification these airwaves require is substantial. In fact, recent tests of newly launched commercial 5G networks in the United States are showing that millimeter wave signals are not traveling more than 350 feet, even when there are no major obstructions. They are also not penetrating walls or windows, making indoor coverage difficult.

This discussion is beyond my technical knowledge. And Rosenworcel doesn’t help matters by focusing on outcomes without explaining the process. She doesn’t explain why the United States is focusing on the high-band while others are also focusing on lower bands. Is it a regulatory decision made, presumably, by Republicans on the FCC? Is there some other obstacle?

Regardless, she argues that the results are highly problematic:

This means that high-band 5G service is unlikely outside of the most populated urban areas. The sheer volume of antenna facilities needed make this service viable makes it too costly to deploy in rural areas. So if we want to serve everywhere—and not create communities of 5G haves and have-nots—we are going to need a mix of airwaves that provide both coverage and capacity. That means we need mid-band spectrum. For rural America to see competitive 5G in the near future, we cannot count on high-band spectrum to get the job done.

The United States is always going to be a disadvantage compared to Europe and Japan on these matters, simply because we’re so vast and so much of our territory is essentially unpopulated. Getting mail, much less cellular service and high-speed connectivity to a family of three living on a 10,000-acre farm in Montana is just extremely expensive and challenging.

At one level, choosing an extremely rural lifestyle means sacrificing being on the cutting edge of modernity. It’s unreasonable to expect society or businesses to expend enormous resources to supply those who have essentially chosen to live apart from the rest of us.

Still, we’ve reached a point where being unconnected from high-speed Internet or unable to get a reliable cellular signal—which are starting to converge—is to essentially be cut off from the economy. How exactly society ought manage that trade-off isn’t obvious to me.

Rosenworcel’s admonition that we need to focus on capacity, not just capability, seems reasonable. But she doesn’t even mention how much it’ll cost to do so, only what it’ll mean if we don’t.

UPDATE: In the discussion below, longtime commenter Andy offers this corrective:

[T]he US isn’t abandoning mid and low-band 5G and no one in the industry expects millimeter wave 5G to be the “core” of 5g service in the future. The reason that low and mid-band frequencies aren’t being used for the initial 5G rollouts (except for Sprint, because they haven’t been able to build out the spectrum they currently own, unlike the other carriers) is because almost all of the bandwidth is being used by current 3G and 4G/LTE networks. All the carriers have announced the shutdown of their 3G networks, which will free up spectrum for 5G in a process known as spectrum refarming. The same will happen with the spectrum currently used for 4G/LTE.

That actually makes a lot more sense than Rosenworcel’s implication that the industry hasn’t figured this issue out or that there’s some unspecified plot to abandon rural Americans. Lord knows they’re well enough represented in Congress.

FILED UNDER: Science & Technology
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Back in ’10 or ’11 as part of the stimulus they laid a large loop of pipe for a fiber optic cable here in the backwoods of Washington Co. My wife was quite excited as she was working from home 1 day of every 5 and fiber optic would be far superior to our satellite service. Sadly, the DEMs lost the ’10 mid terms and to this day that pipe remains empty and we are still using satellite because “deficits during recessions” are worse than bringing one’s constituents into the 21st century to foster economic growth.

    Ms. Rosenworcel may not have mentioned Republicans because this is a bi-partisan act of idiocy, but the way to bet is that the GOP is behind it, especially if it can be shown that a specific corporate player/s is reaping massive financial gains from it at the cost of rural voters.

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  2. KM says:

    Getting mail, much less cellular service and high-speed connectivity to a family of three living on a 10,000-acre farm in Montana is just extremely expensive and challenging.

    As it should be. After all, in a capitalistic nation why should someone who lives in the middle of nowhere with no customer base get the same service at the same price as someone who lives in an easily accessible area with others to help bring down the cost? It’s just like mail service – you want to live way out there all by yourself? You don’t get mail delivered to your house every day. Want more services? Pay for it. They won’t though – most of these folks deliberately live in low /no taxes places that *can’t* support these services and expect others to pick up the slack.

    I’ve always found it curious that folks who chose to live in seclusion get pissy when that seclusion infringes on their luxuries. It’s not like were talking about small or dying town which at least manage to hold a handful of people together in a reasonably sized area of land. That’s difficult to do but justifiable on price points. But when your nearest neighbor is miles plural away and there’s more cows then people, it can and should cost you more because you choose to be that distance.

    This is what rural means, James. It means spotty wifi and cellular as the number of house get further and further apart. It’s a capitalism thing – you pay for what you get. They need to start demanding their state set up this system so they can be part of the greater economic and not expect other states to foot the bill. There’s always been a cost to access the marketplace – rent for a stall, fees for advertisement, etc. The only way they don’t get cut out is if they start ponying up for the infrastructure they need.

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  3. Andy says:

    As it happens, now that I’m retired from the government, I work in the cellular industry.

    It’s a bit sad to see that someone on the FCC commission is so misinformed about the future of 5G. She is correct that most of the early 5G rollouts are in millimeter wave and she’s also totally correct about the tradeoffs when it comes to frequency, range, and bandwidth.

    But the US isn’t abandoning mid and low-band 5G and no one in the industry expects millimeter wave 5G to be the “core” of 5g service in the future. The reason that low and mid-band frequencies aren’t being used for the initial 5G rollouts (except for Sprint, because they haven’t been able to build out the spectrum they currently own, unlike the other carriers) is because almost all of the bandwidth is being used by current 3G and 4G/LTE networks. All the carriers have announced the shutdown of their 3G networks, which will free up spectrum for 5G in a process known as spectrum refarming. The same will happen with the spectrum currently used for 4G/LTE.

    The 5G future will rest on a triad of spectrum that’s already laid out – sub 1GHz (low band) spectrum that provides long-range, good building penetration, but at lower bandwidth; high-band (millimeter wave) spectrum that provides short range but extremely high bandwidth, and mid-band spectrum that balances the two. Most of the carriers (again, except for Sprint) have rolled out the high-band first because it’s the spectrum that is easily available and they’re all trying to win the 5G marketing race and bragging rights.

    5G is just getting started and it’s going to take time to build-out the network and refarm the necessary spectrum. There are only a couple of 5G devices currently available and Apple might not even have a 5G iPhone until 2021, so most people don’t need to worry about 5G yet. Heck the 5G standard was only finalized last fall. Regardless, the future is pretty clear – 5G is going to replace 4G just as 4G replaced 3G which replaced 2G. In each iteration, the spectrum was repurposed to take advantage of the new technology, but that transition takes time.

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  4. James Joyner says:

    @KM:

    This is what rural means, James. It means spotty wifi and cellular as the number of house get further and further apart. It’s a capitalism thing – you pay for what you get. They need to start demanding their state set up this system so they can be part of the greater economic and not expect other states to foot the bill.

    I’m with you up to a point; indeed, it’s the premise of my skepticism of the op-ed. But the parents’ choices impact their children, who had no part in said choice, and the impact of being way behind technologically may well be permanent.

    Further, it’s one thing to be somewhat isolated as a matter of pure aesthetic choice—as I’m about to be (post forthcoming)—and quite another to do so as part of the essential economic activity of agriculture. The very nature of farming and ranching is such that people aren’t going to live in close proximity to one another in the way that those who work in manufacturing, finance, service, and other concentrated industries are. I’m not sure how far the social contract goes there but it’s not purely “Screw off farmer, you should live in a city rather than growing our food.”

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  5. Kathy says:

    Frequency can be seen as a measure of the energy contained in an electromagnetic wave. So a higher frequency requires more energy to produce. This is elementary physics. Reach and penetration vary. Very long radio waves have a long reach because the obstacles are smaller than the waves. At the other end, X-rays can penetrate some solids because they’re very energetic.

    So how big is Dennison’s rural base anyway? They’ve been slapped with tariffs, and now they’ll be stuck with wither substandard or expensive cellular and data services. you’d think their votes don’t matter to him.

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  6. drj says:

    @James Joyner:

    I’m not sure how far the social contract goes there but it’s not purely “Screw off farmer, you should live in a city rather than growing our food.”

    I agree, but what complicates matters is that the rural population generally tends to:

    1) live in deep-red, low-tax states that already need to be heavily subsidized by “coastal elites” AKA “not-Real Amerians” living in blue states;

    2) have outsize political influence that is subsequently used to screw over the very people on which they rely to subsidize their lifestyles.

    The social contract should cut both ways. Right now, it doesn’t.

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  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Andy: Thanx.

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  8. Jax says:

    There’s also the Huawei ban to consider.

    https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/technology/huawei-ban-threatens-wireless-service-in-americas-rural-areas

    In my particular area, we only have two cellular providers, Verizon and a semi-local company called Union Wireless. Huawei technology is cheap, it will cost Union a fortune to upgrade to 5G WITH Huawei, without it, it might not be possible.

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  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Andy: It occurs to me that Ms. Rosenworcel might be sending a shot across the bow of folks engaged in some inner FCC machinations, but that is pure speculation and if so she did a bad job of it.

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  10. grumpy realist says:

    @James Joyner: There’s been experiments on exactly how much farming can be done with a combination of robots, drones, and AI. I think that’s the road we’re going to see American farming going, especially with the ever-increasing conglomeration of small-family-farms into BigAg tracts.

    We could, of course, start charging rural dwellers for the exact costs of getting mail out to them….

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  11. Andy says:

    Also, keep in mind that in less than a decade we’ll have at least two competing “global broadband” satellite systems (Amazon’s Project Kuiper and SpaceX Starlink), that could totally change the game, especially for rural areas, aircraft, ships, and the undeveloped world.

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  12. Jen says:

    The problem with the capitalism argument (e.g., sorry, if you can’t pay for it eff off) is that internet access and broadband in particular is practically required to participate in society, AND, the effects of this aren’t just felt in deep red states/rural areas, it applies equally to densely populated urban areas where cable companies haven’t bothered to expand service because the urban poor can’t afford to pay $100+ a month for high-speed access.

    We’re in a somewhat rural part of NH, and one of the key factors in our decision to live here was that we actually DO have high-speed cable access. I needed it for work. But there are plenty of towns in this state where cable companies have basically taken a pass. 5G, if it were to extend to rural communities, would be a game changer.

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  13. Teve says:

    I’m totally distraught that Joe Blow the farmer in BFE Missouri who grows soybeans and votes for Trump and then takes a bunch of my tax dollars in his Tariff Welfare Bailout is going to have to make do with the 4G I’m currently using to type this comment. I can’t express how much I’m crying on the inside.

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  14. Joe says:

    @KM:

    Consistent with James ‘s assessment, there has long been a concept in the phone industry (that in many ways mirrors the postal service ) called “universal service” which reflects a policy choice by Congress (and by many states) that rural customers should receive comparable phone service at comparable prices to city folks. That same concept is now being repeated in broadband. Because it is a policy, fought over at both the federal and state level, it falls someplace between your “screw the rural/red folks” attitude and James’ full service for all. It does take into account the value brought to society by having “high cost” agricultural areas to serve and “super high-cost” areas. (There is a separate, partner program for low income customers.) Surprisingly, those rural red voters don’t get much direct airplay as a constituency driving the funding – it tends to be more of a blue cause.

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  15. Modulo Myself says:

    I think it’s way too early to tell. But I can say from experience that the way Verizon treated Fios access in New York does not bode well for promises by telecom companies to give everyone equal access to the same speeds. For about a year I lived in a neighborhood with no Fios. You could just watch your speeds die three IPs away. Verizon’s landline division threw up their hands and reneged on their promises to wire the city, and now the city is suing Verizon.

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  16. Teve says:

    There’s still only two good potential use cases for 5g->VR and telesurgery, cuz low latency is important for both. But neither of those have caught on much even in downtown Manhattan or San Francisco where you could get fiber. There’s still no good argument for why you need 5g amidst the cornstalks.

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  17. Teve says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    The FiOS thing got so weird. I had a friend in Tampa who wanted it in his apartment and knew that it was already in the building and he called up Verizon to get it installed and they told him it wasn’t available at his address and he said yes it is I’ve seen your technicians here, and they assured him that it wasn’t. So the next time he saw one of their technicians in the building he called them up and they told him the same thing and he said yes it is available I’m literally looking at one of your guys in the hallway wiring something up right now, and they told him nope, sorry, it’s not.

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  18. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Joe:

    The big telecoms were already paid $40 billion for rural telecom, which they basically just pocketed and are now asking to be paid for again. If rural areas want service, they can start by voting for people who want to prosecute the people who embezzled that money.

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  19. DrDaveT says:

    @James Joyner:

    But the parents’ choices impact their children, who had no part in said choice, and the impact of being way behind technologically may well be permanent.

    Of all the ways parents’ choices and actions when raising their children affect those children (and society) negatively, this seems like maybe the 374th-most important. I’d be really embarrassed to live in a country that cared more about kids everywhere having cutting-edge broadband than about kids everywhere eating sufficient amounts of nutritious food, or not being able to tell you how many times 7 goes into 49.

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  20. DrDaveT says:

    @James Joyner:

    The very nature of farming and ranching is such that people aren’t going to live in close proximity to one another in the way that those who work in manufacturing, finance, service, and other concentrated industries are.

    Yes, but those rural dwellers aren’t farmers or ranchers. Really.

    There are about 3 million agricultural workers in the US these days — 1% of the population. There are 68 million people living in states with an overall population density less than 100 people per square mile. (That jumps to 100 million if you throw in Texas at 105.) Note that this criterion excludes a number of states that people think of as agricultural, such as Indiana and Wisconsin.

    So, to a first approximation, 95% of the people living in rural areas are not involved in agriculture. This is the main reason why we need to squelch the myth that the rural side of the urban-vs-rural cultural squabbles are mostly Noble Farmers, Providers of the Bread of Life. Whatever it is that those people are doing with their lives, it isn’t feeding the rest of us.

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  21. Barry says:

    @Kathy: “So how big is Dennison’s rural base anyway? They’ve been slapped with tariffs, and now they’ll be stuck with wither substandard or expensive cellular and data services. you’d think their votes don’t matter to him.”

    By the time that his base realizes the latter, we’ll be on mop-up duty, finalizing the New New Deal.

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  22. KM says:

    @James

    I’m not sure how far the social contract goes there but it’s not purely “Screw off farmer, you should live in a city rather than growing our food.”

    Not what I said. My point is if there’s infrastructure to be built, it should be the state and its residents that need to absorb the cost. Raise your damn taxes. You’re a mostly, rural farming state? Then why are you so surprised your population is so spread out and it will cost more to wire your state? It’s gonna be the same for paving it for road or laying pipes for water. You are just going to have incur more in costs and find a way to balance it out – that’s just facts.

    Why can’t the red states eat the cost for giving their residents access to a necessary feature of modern life? They’re the ones who deliberately keep their taxes so low they can’t afford to make necessary repairs to existing infrastructure, let alone build new stuff. Their residents choose to live there, choose to keep voting down proposals and for folks who don’t improve their way of life. Shouldn’t we respect their choices and let the hand of the market do it’s thing? If they really want 5G or better cellular coverage, then they should get their butts to the booth and vote for a meaningful measure to make it happen. Don’t look at me to foot the bill when my own blue state has bridges to repairs and roads to repave – that’s what taxes are for!

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  23. KM says:

    @DrDaveT :

    to a first approximation, 95% of the people living in rural areas are not involved in agriculture. This is the main reason why we need to squelch the myth that the rural side of the urban-vs-rural cultural squabbles are mostly Noble Farmers, Providers of the Bread of Life. Whatever it is that those people are doing with their lives, it isn’t feeding the rest of us.

    THIS ^^. I used to live a deep red rural area where we needed to pass tractors on the dirt shoulder to get to the store. In our community there were less then 20 tiny, active farms; the rest of us just happened to live near them and drove to the city to work. People forget that a large segment lives in rural areas specifically because they are rural aka away from the city. Some people don’t want 5G or streaming services, they want the old-school rustic rugged individual life. Others want to live in low tax Randian areas where they can be king in their little castle out in the wilderness. Some want space, some want quiet small town life, some can’t get out of fading factory towns and some can’t leave the places their family has lived for generations. Yes, a lot of places are not doing great but a lot of that is due to deliberate choice made by towns that exacerbate already bad situations. 5G ain’t gonna help if there’s no jobs because the workforce can’t or won’t adapt to a changing world.

    Rural =/= farmer. Rural =/= poor. Rural means not-urban. That means it won’t have all the bells and whistles urban places do. This is a feature, not a bug to many.

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  24. Jen says:

    @KM:

    Why can’t the red states eat the cost for giving their residents access to a necessary feature of modern life?

    This is one of the things that perplexes me the most about opposition to community-based broadband initiatives. These were communities that were in the process of trying to do exactly this, and were prevented from doing so.

    So basically, “you’re not big enough for us to give a *&^% about to build an infrastructure, but you can’t build it on your own either.”

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  25. Monala says:

    @KM: Yup! I keep thinking about all the snarky comments I saw by Red Staters on the articles about how the caps on SALT deductions resulted in federal income tax increases this year for many blue state homeowners. “Your fault for living in a state with high property taxes,” they snickered. As drj wrote above, it cuts both ways.

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  26. grumpy realist says:

    Several years ago the Washington Post ran a story about how so many rural counties were having to let their roads return to gravel because they didn’t have the tax base to pay for the continued upkeep of asphalt roads. I remember one of the interviewees was a lady who was absolutely furious at the proposed raises in the tax rates to keep the roads paved, couldn’t see why she “couldn’t have a paved road outside her house”, and who suggested that in order to raise the required money the state make cuts in the salaries of all public employees….

    (We get similar stupidity in Illinois as well. Some idiot some time back didn’t understand why there was a stink about the multiple years of no raises for UIUC university professors, because “they’re making more than the average salaried worker so shouldn’t complain.” The fact that UIUC was rapidly losing its top-level professors to other, more remunerative faculty positions in other locations totally passed over him….)

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  27. The abyss that is the soul of cracker says:

    And we wonder how the urban/rural divide got so toxic. (And I stopped reading halfway through the comments. Buh-bye!)

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  28. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    I’m with you up to a point; indeed, it’s the premise of my skepticism of the op-ed. But the parents’ choices impact their children, who had no part in said choice, and the impact of being way behind technologically may well be permanent.

    There’s every chance the parents chose to introduce their children to the wrong religion* and the kids will most likely spend eternity burning in the pits of hell, so I think slow broadband is likely the least of their problems.

    Parents make decisions that affect their children all the time. We only limit it to child abuse. I’m open to the idea that raising a child in Kansas is child abuse.

    *: Don’t ask me, I don’t know the right religion either.

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  29. Jen says:

    @The abyss that is the soul of cracker:

    Well, you probably won’t be back to read this response then.

    I think that internet access has transitioned from a “nice to have”/luxury item into a necessity. I view it fairly close to being a basic utility, and believe that it’s becoming ever more entrenched into our daily lives. I also think that (fast) internet access could transform rural communities in ways that we cannot imagine, in a positive way.

    Because of this, I’m not keen on the notion that “hey, they chose to live out there, why do they need X” comments. The same types of arguments were made for rural electrification, water, and roads.

    On the other hand, it is also entirely true that these are the same areas that refuse to increase taxes for seemingly anything. They are predominantly anti-government, except for when the government is expected to address the problem at no cost to them. Things don’t work that way.

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  30. KM says:

    @The abyss that is the soul of cracker:
    *sigh* Again, some of us are from rural areas and are letting you that “toxic divide” isn’t coming from those of us not willing to be guilted into paying for what others refuse to do. Many rural folk will be quick to correct you on your entitlement mentality if you told them federal funds should pay for universal internet access, especially if you imply those funds would go to inner cities. Watch how quickly they will turn on this idea if they think it’s going to someone they think is unworthy. Meanwhile, we’re debating if it’s mean to hold them to their own standards.

    Some places desperately need help, can’t get it and are trying their best. They deserve help and all the funding – it’s not their fault the economy’s rough for them. Being poor shouldn’t mean you can’t have the basics of life. If they’re trying to get the project started and there’s just not enough funds, then we should be happy as blue staters to chip in some bucks.

    But if you live in a place that can’t be bothered to raise a cent to get it done themselves because of stupid conservative “logic” and you approve of said logic? Then you’ve made your choice and it’s not my responsibility to save you from yourself. You’re an adult and I respect your decision to make terrible choices. Capitalism, their holy standard, has decided they don’t get nice stuff by virtue of where they live. Socialism, on the other hand, is willing to share and make sure they have all the shinies needed to live a modern society. Guess which one they’ll talk sh^t about?

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  31. Gustopher says:

    @KM:

    Some people don’t want 5G or streaming services, they want the old-school rustic rugged individual life.

    Do they stick disks into machines like … animals?

    What a sad life they must lead. Do they churn their own butter too?

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  32. Teve says:

    @KM: I live in the boonies in the Deep South, and years ago for extra cash I worked in the two big local hardware stores off and on over 5 years. There is no more whiny and entitled and spoiled humans on the planet than elderly white men.

    Most EWM are perfectly fine people of course, like anybody else, but if you run into somebody who is a particularly whiny-ass titty baby, 9.5 times out 10….

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  33. KM says:

    @Gustopher:
    Some people like living off the grid. There was a family who hunted and farmed what they needed. Power came from solar and it ran what electric stuff they decided to have. They made the best pickles I’ve ever had. And no, they traded for things like butter with fresh venison or the like. The first time I tried to find venison in the city it took me days and I choked at the price.

    Seriously, rural =/= poor and deprived. It’s really kind of insulting how many people just assume that living a rural life is like something out of a tragic Steinbeck novel or Lifetime special. Some people are actually happy to live without wifi and the latest gadgets. Some folks out west would rather be out under the big blue sky then streaming Netflix. Not everywhere needs to be wired and not everyone is interested.

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  34. Gustopher says:

    @Teve: I think you underestimate elderly white women. The whiny-ass titty baby population is more gender diverse than your estimates.

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  35. Gustopher says:

    @KM: Terrifying.

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  36. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Gustopher:

    I still buy discs, mostly because I’m not comfortable with the idea of a third party being able to delete my entire media library whenever they feel I’m not paying them enough.

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  37. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @The abyss that is the soul of cracker: Indeed. Sometimes I wonder when people will begin to complain about all the federal money going to fight inner city slum crime.

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  38. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jen: And you don’t have a chance of changing their minds if they only have access to AM radio and FOX.

    You pick.

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  39. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: 🙂 I only ever had one older white lady who gave me any trouble, but she was drunk at like 2 in the afternoon.

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  40. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @KM:

    But if you live in a place that can’t be bothered to raise a cent to get it done themselves because of stupid conservative “logic” and you approve of said logic? Then you’ve made your choice and it’s not my responsibility to save you from yourself.

    You are missing the part where they are dragging you down with them. Like it or not, you are in the same boat. Arguing about who is responsible for plugging the leaks is great, but if you insist they do it and you refuse to?

    You die just the same. Sorry.

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  41. Tyrell says:

    @Andy: I have read reports and statements about possible health risks from this.
    Most people around here do not want a bunch of 5G satellites right out at the street. The neighborhoods will be filled with them.
    This needs to be studied more before throwing these things up everywhere.

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  42. DrDaveT says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Sometimes I wonder when people will begin to complain about all the federal money going to fight inner city slum crime.

    Apologies if that was sarcasm and I missed it, but what federal money is that?

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  43. Tyrell says:

    @DrDaveT: Well, according to Common Core math, the answer could be 7. Or 6. Let the students figure it out. But somehow, maybe through some sort of osmosis, the students will learn the multiplication facts.
    “2 + 2 = 4. But maybe not”

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  44. Andy says:

    @Tyrell:

    There’s no evidence that millimeter wave 5G is harmful but there are a lot of conspiracy theories running around about it, including some promoted by Russian disinformation outlets. 5G is nothing to worry about.

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  45. Teve says:

    In my twenty years is a math tutor I have yet to meet somebody complaining about “Common Core math” who understands what it is and why it’s done, and why it’s a great improvement in getting kids to understand how math works.

    Like other adults who were raised doing the horrible opaque algorithms for basic math, I too was befuddled upon first meeting the techniques, but I quickly saw how they weren’t just better methods for doing basic arithmetic, but they also naturally led into basic algebra concepts like distribution.

    The only problem with common core math is adults who don’t understand it.

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  46. Jen says:

    @Teve: AMEN.

    The Common Core math I’ve seen makes perfect sense to me–I honestly believe if I’d been taught math that way, it would have been more intuitive and easier for me to understand.

    Adults like to whine a lot I think.

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  47. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Jen:

    It’s like when I hear a Gen X or a Millenial complain about “New Math”, not realizing that’s probably what they were taught, it just wasn’t being called New Math anymore by then.

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