A need to avoid “redlining” in broadband-Internet rollouts

During the election campaign in Australia, both political parties put up their plans for an improved broadband Internet service, with Labor providing a fibre-to-the-premises plan for most metropolitan, regional and rural areas and satellite for other areas while the Liberal Party put up a plan based on cable-Internet, ADSL and fixed-wireless technologies with a fibre-optic backbone.

One of the issues that I have noticed is that the broadband issue hadn’t touched on the issue of “redlining” when it came to provisioning of infrastructure. “Redlining” is where districts that are capable of receiving infrastructure aren’t provided with the infrastructure due to a perceived economic environment that is in place or the goal of particular parties like developers or investors to “shape” a particular district to a desired usage vision. An example of this was what happened with the way cable-based pay-TV service was provisioned around the cities in Australia. Some neighourhoods had the cables in the streets while other neighbourhoods didn’t have the cables and in those neighbourhoods that didn’t have cables, pay-TV was provisioned by satellite while broadband Internet was provisioned by ADSL. This became the same situation even though some of these suburbs were inhabited by wealthier professionals, “empty-nest” couples or others with more disposable income.

This can easily backfire as the demand for this kind of infrastructure shows up in the areas that are “redlined”. It can be caused by situations such as the subscription price for the services becoming more affordable for most people. As well, it can be exacerbated more by changes like gentrification of former working-class neighbourhoods or “empty-nest” couples moving to neighbourhoods with plenty of small houses.

Whenever anyone decides to roll out next-generation broadband, they need to make sure all areas that can be covered by a particular medium are covered by that medium.

Latest Comments

  1. Doug Robertson 15/08/2010

Leave a Reply