The Carolina Public Press interviewed Christopher Mitchell, Director of ILSR's Community Broadband Networks initiative, for a story about two proposed bills in North Carolina that aim to help bridge the digital divide.
His contributions are below:
Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative for the Minneapolis-based Institute for Local Self-Reliance, said it’s evident by what’s happening on the ground that the major companies like Spectrum, AT&T and Century Link are far more interested in investing to compete in the lucrative, more densely populated markets. At the same time, he said, they’re fighting off changes in order to hold onto their monopolies in the less populated regions.
“It’s a fundamental conflict because North Carolina needs to encourage other kinds of investment,” he said.
“The big companies will not get the job done in the rural areas.”
Mitchell, who took part in a series of broadband discussions in January in several North Carolina communities, said the result has deepened the digital divide here. Among the states, he said, North Carolina has one of the greatest discrepancies between the digital haves and have-nots.
“There is more investment in high-quality networks in North Carolina cities than the average cities in the United States, and there is less investment in the rural areas than the average for rural America,” he said.
“I would expect to see a second or third fiber option in Chapel Hill or Raleigh before I’d see the first one in a town 75 miles east of there,” Mitchell said.