The “digital divide” has existed for some time. For those that don’t know, this is basically the gap between the haves and the have nots of broadband/high speed internet across the country. Up until now, this has been mostly discussed in terms of rural broadband. However, the COVID-19 crisis has brought light to the fact that this is not just a rural problem. There are plenty of developed areas located on the fringes of high density urban and suburban populations that are not adequately served by broadband. Typically, the major fiber providers or owners, i.e., Comcast, AT&T, Charter, etc., have fiber in the “area,” but they do not deliver fiber to these remaining places because the return on investment is simply not there for them. These companies have determined that there is not enough population or potential subscribers to warrant spending the capital necessary for putting the infrastructure in place to serve these areas. Communities have been left to figure out for themselves how to get that “last mile of fiber” needed in order for their residents to get broadband.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of broadband everywhere has become a bigger issue than it was before. We hear it most predominantly in the discussion about education and remote learning. While the ideal situation in this crisis would have been to move every student over to remote learning, the reality is that it is not possible because not every household has access to broadband or affordable internet. Many families have resorted to hanging out in the nearby McDonald’s parking lot or the local library where they can access free WiFi. Unfortunately for most public school districts around the country, this has resulted in utilizing forms of remote learning that are less than comprehensive and by no means a substitute for classroom education. This has resulted in school districts struggling with how to advance students to the next level, how to give credit for graduation and many more issues. These issues have shown how ill-prepared we were for this type of crisis. Now the question becomes how we get prepared so that we are not faced with this dilemma in the future.
While education seems to be the focal point of the broadband discussion these days, the reality is that the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed all aspects of our economy need widespread broadband deployed and soon. This includes medicine, small business, big business, agri-business and residential uses. The Federal government has tried to help by throwing money at the problem in the form of grants and loans. However, the amount of money that has been dedicated to this issue has not been nearly enough and given the state of our economy coming out of the pandemic, who really knows what other priorities will face the government requiring money. In addition, the process for obtaining these loans and grants is often so time consuming and burdensome, that actually getting broadband to these underserved areas just seems like a goal that is not reachable.
Money is often the root of this problem, but it is by no means the only problem. Urban Wireless Solutions and its strategic partners can help communities analyze and develop creative solutions to closing the digital divide your area. From determining where the actual need lies, to identifying the relevant stakeholders that need to be part of the discussion, to identifying financing mechanisms, to providing engineering services and maintenance services once the network is up and running, Urban Wireless Solutions has the people and resources in place to find the best solution for your community.
Why Are We The Best?
To foster a cooperative, not adversarial, relationship between local government and the wireless industry. To connect cities to the future for the future.
Wireless technology is obviously here to stay. It becomes a larger part of our lives every day. At UWS, we believe that the industry and communities need each other to take advantage of synergies that exist between the two entities. UWS wants to bring those to the forefront and make wireless work for everybody.
UWS will bring its wealth of experience and knowledge, along with its work ethic, to the client for achieving a wireless solution that best serves the community and its constituents. UWS will make every effort possible to arrive at this solution cooperatively with the wireless industry. However, UWS will represent its clients vigorously and will make every attempt to reach mutually beneficial results without sacrificing the best interest of the community.
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