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The internet in rural areas has always been bad. And it's not a tech problem

By Lauren Gilger
Published: Tuesday, December 21, 2021 - 2:11pm
Updated: Wednesday, December 22, 2021 - 9:03am

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Farm Fresh Broadband by Christopher Ali
The MIT Press
Christopher Ali, author of “Farm Fresh Broadband: The Politics of Rural Connectivity.”

President Joe Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 passed in November with a national pool of $65 billion for rural internet improvements — $100 million of which is allocated for the state of Arizona.

This is in addition to another commitment from the state to fund the Arizona Broadband Development Grant Program, ultimately providing $200 million for local communities to construct or improve broadband infrastructure.

Christopher Ali, a professor of media studies at the University of Virginia, says if these funds are spent the same way they have been in the past, rural Arizonans will get internet access that isn’t much better than dial-up, if at all.

In his new book, "Farm Fresh Broadband," Ali says rural internet development in America has been inadequate for decades, and that there are lessons to be learned from that to be successful going forward.

The Show spoke with Ali to learn about the situation, beginning with just how essential good broadband is today.

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