Thursday, September 28, 2006

Rural Areas Virtually Third World

The Burgh Diaspora network is location-dependent. Rural areas such as the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont are likely beyond the reach of the knowledge economy. The irony of distance collaboration is that most of it must take place in densely populated areas that justify the investment in the requisite telecommunications infrastructure. The more people that live in close proximity to each other, the less likely they will need to interact with their neighbors.

Unless the government steps in with subsidies, the urban-rural digital divide will likely continue to increase, discouraging businesses from seeking the cheaper real estate out in the boondocks:

“We have companies that lose money because they don’t have broadband,” said Maureen Connolly, a director at the Economic Development Council of Northern Vermont. “We’re not a third world country. We shouldn’t have to beg for service.”

A response to this trend may be high-density exurbs in rural regions (Blacksburg, VA?). Running a business that requires an online presence may force owners to move to the closest large town that supports broadband service. That might be the only way to keep companies from leaving the region entirely.

This service problem also points in the direction of regional consolidation of government services. Expenses spread over a region may provide the means to keep the remotely located connected to the rest of the world.

1 comment:

John Morris said...

To be honest, I think that enough money and energy has been put into subsidising people living in places that are not entirely logical. The result is a spreading of the population in a way that is not economically viable and is inherently dependent on tax transfers and massive duplication of resources and the destruction of the environment.

If the market does not support something, that might be a clue that it doesn't make sense.