Daily Bread for 8.16.21: Broadband Gaps, Right Here in Whippet City

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 84. Sunrise is 6:03 AM and sunset 7:54 PM, for 13h 50m 37s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 59.7% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Equal Opportunities Commission meets at 5 PM, the Community Development Authority at 5:30 PM, and the Library Board at 6:30 PM.

 On this day in 1930, the first color sound cartoon, Fiddlesticks, is released by Ub Iwerks.

Rick Barrett reports Numerous tech developers are looking for a game-changer to bridge the digital divide:

New technologies could help bridge the digital divide in sparsely populated places where it can cost $30,000 a mile to deploy fiber cable for just a few customers.

Jonathan Sharp has been a beta tester for one of them, Starlink, from his home in Wisconsin’s Northwoods.

Starlink is an effort by SpaceX founder Elon Musk to deliver broadband to rural America via thousands of satellites in orbit closer to the Earth than conventional satellites. Last December, Musk was awarded $886 million from the federal Rural Digital Opportunity Fund to get service to nearly 643,000 locations in 35 states.

Sharp said he’s gotten speeds comparable to living in a city, a major improvement from conventional satellite service that’s been part of the rural landscape for decades and has often been labeled unreliable and expensive.

Here in Whitewater and the nearby towns of the Whitewater Unified School District – far from the most rural parts of the state – there are problems with broadband access and speeds for many residents. The pandemic made this plain: while the district had some early ambition to offer virtual services to students beyond the district’s boundaries, many district families had inadequate online access. The plan was later, and sensibly, set aside.

In the city, and in the school district, this much one can say: years of boosterism have yet to boost access to online services for all.

Indeed, the stark truth these development men and women face: there are families in the district without homes, without electricity, without water.

Broadband, sadly, is a bit farther down on these families’ lists of needs.

Fiddlesticks (1930):

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