Random (but not really)

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Greatest Free-Market Success Story in History

The Internet is “the greatest free-market success story in history”
–Ajit Pai

Unless, of course, you live in a rural area or an area suffering from poverty and urban blight.

Consider these numbers for WV, for percent of the population with access to mobile broadband service +25mbps. (Broadband Now)

Jefferson = 95.4%
Hancock = 94.9%
Berkeley = 93.5%
Wyoming = 93.8%
Wood = 90.9%
Kanawha = 90.4%
Monongalia =89.2%

Mon county (where I live) has the flagship state university, WVU, and yet only 89.2% of the county has access to broadband. Two of those in the top three are the easternmost panhandle counties–essentially bedroom counties for the DC area. The third is the northernmost county, which is just west of Pittsburgh.

But still, that’s not too bad, right? What about the rural counties?

Pocahontas = 0%
Calhoun = 0%
Ritchie = 14.0%
Clay – 16.7%
Monroe = 17.9%
Barbour 21.4%

Two counties with zero access to broadband. None. And one of those counties (Pocohontas) is in the Radio Quiet Zone where there is also ZERO cell signal.

And even without the Radio Quiet Zone, there are a LOT of areas in WV without any cell services. (1)

And here are the 2015 poverty rates for those bottom counties.

Pocahontas County = 16.5%
Calhoun County = 17.7%
Ritchie County = 20.7%
Clay County = 28.2%
Monroe County = 16.8%
Barbour County = 21.5%

The only positive here is that those don’t happen to also be the counties with the greatest percent of the population in poverty. (3)

Remember last spring when I was talking about food deserts?

Monroe and Barbour counties are also a food deserts.(4)

Transportation is harder to quantify. For the sake of simplicity (and lack of data) I’m going to look at areas without access to a major divided highway as having transportation issues. A lot of this is subjective unfortunately, since Rt 50 west of I79 is a well-maintained divided highway, but east of I79 it’s almost all single lane with a lot of switchbacks and 7-9% grades.

So what kind of roads do these counties that lack broadband have?

Pocahontas – Route 219
Calhoun – Rt 119/33
Ritchie – Rt 50 west
Clay – I70 across northern corner
Monroe – 219
Barbour – 119/250

You can look these up yourself, but if you’re willing to take my word for it, out of that list only Ritchie county has anything approaching a decent road running through it.

So what is my point in all this?

My point is that A good deal of WV lacks broadband coverage, and there is zero financial incentive for companies to bring it in. And once they come in, they’re going to want ways to boost their revenue, and the only way to do that would be to charge the big sites for premium access.

So no, I think repealing net neutrality is NOT a good idea.

Here is all the above data in a single table, if that makes it easier to parse.

 

  Broadband Poverty Median Unemployment Roads
Pocahontas  0% 16.50% $49,801 3.10% Rt 219
Calhoun  0% 17.70% $45,519 8.80% Rts 119/33
Ritchie  14.00% 20.70% $46,394 5.30% Rt 50 (west ofI79)
Clay  16.70% 28.20% $42,030 5.60% I70 (small corner)
Monroe  17.90% 16.80% $47,975 3.80% Rt 219
Barbour   21.40% 21.50% $46,623 4.60% Rts 119/250

(1) This is one of the reasons we bought a GPS for the car years ago, because google maps doesn’t work if you don’t have cell service. (2)

(2) It’s also why I’m pretty proficient in reading paper maps. Because our GPS hates us and often recommends roads that are not recommended for cars without 4-wheel drive.

(3) The bottom five would be:
Webster County = 26.1%
Gilmer County 27%
Lincoln County 27.3%
Clay County 28.2%
McDowell County 35.5%

(4) I am designating food deserts here as areas where you have to drive 20 or more to purchase food (ie groceries). This doesn’t mean a grocery story necessarily, just a store (like a Quicky Mart, Drug Store, or Dollar Store that also sells food.)

2 Responses to “The Greatest Free-Market Success Story in History”

  1. H J Gadiyar Says:

    You spent enough time to research this data, I am sure. Thanks for sharing with the rest of us.

  2. Michelle Says:

    I’m a geek. :) I love research and data analysis.

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