Thursday December 14th, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed the so-called “net neutrality” regulations put in place by the previous administration. Net neutrality is a principle that treats all internet traffic equally regardless of the source (example: Netflix) or destination (your home or mobile device).
The FCC argued that these regulations were impeding innovation and investment in broadband networks, widening the digital divide. Proponents argue the internet blossomed under light regulations and that more investment, and competition, will follow. Opponents argue broadband providers may become gatekeepers of the internet blocking or throttling specific websites or applications.
The FCC, under the new framework, also requires broadband providers to be transparent regarding how they treat internet traffic. The idea is that consumers unhappy with how their provider is treating internet traffic (including potential additional costs for certain websites and applications) can switch to another provider.
However as of 2016, some neighborhoods (Census tracts) in Indiana have only one fixed broadband provider advertising at least 25 Mbps down and three Mbps up (25/3 for short) making them very vulnerable and at risk of being left behind in this post net neutrality world.
The map below, using the latest FCC Form 477 data (December 2016 v1), shows Indiana neighborhoods (gray color) with only one fixed broadband 25/3 providers. These had on average a 2016 population density of 113 people per square mile compared to a population density of 188 for the state. More than half are located in the southern part of the state.
Overall, 579,000 Hoosiers or about 8.8 percent of the total population in the state lived in neighborhoods with only one 25/3 fixed broadband provider. As the post net neutrality world unfolds, these highly vulnerable areas need to be watched closely to avoid leaving them behind.
Source: FCC Form 477 December 2016 v1 dataset
Roberto Gallardo (pronounced GaYardo) is Assistant Director and Community and Regional Economics Specialist at the Purdue Center for Regional Development. He holds an engineering degree, a master's in economic development, and a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration. Gallardo has worked with rural communities over the past 13 years conducting local and regional community economic development, including use of technology for development.
He has authored more than 70 articles, including peer-reviewed and news outlets regarding rural trends, socioeconomic analysis, industrial clusters, the digital divide and broadband applications. He is also the author of the book “Responsive Countryside: The Digital Age & Rural Communities,” which highlights a 21st century community development model that helps rural communities transition to, plan for and prosper in the digital age. Dr. Gallardo is a TEDx speaker and his work has been featured in a WIRED magazine article, a MIC.com documentary, and a RFDTV documentary.
Gallardo may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 765-494-3525.