I’ve got a small pile of worthwhile items that readers have sent over the last couple of weeks but haven’t gotten worked into the blog. (I’ve been catching up on work deferred from the summer.) The latest link (thanks Stephen!) points out Louisiana’s abysmal ranking in the uptake of advanced technologies.
According to data gathered by the census bureau Louisiana is 3rd from the bottom in both computer ownership and in subscriptions to broadband. In both cases only Mississippi and Arkansas have lower rates of usage.
Taint good. Not for our state, not for economic development, and not for people’s quality of life.
The explanatory correlations are with both poverty and rural life. Both are correlated with low uptake and both are areas in which Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas vie for “top” ranking.
Normally this would just be a “feel-bad” story. But here in Lafayette we have started changing at least part of the story by creating a local utility. Part of the reason that rural areas have low uptake is that decent broadband is plain not available. LUS will make sure that in the city of Lafayette at least everyone will be able to hook up to the most advanced services available to anyone in the country. But the more intractable issue is poverty…something of which the three states named have far more than their fair share. There are two ways of dealing with that: raise incomes and lower prices. It’s damned hard to do the former. But we’ve taken the right steps to insure lower prices. LUS will drive prices down 20% once they are up and running and the private corporations will have to follow suit. (Competition’s grand.) According to the census bureau’s numbers nearly a quarter of those who don’t now have broadband don’t because they can’t afford it.
A BBC News story on the issue might flesh this out for some readers.