The Density Dodge

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"The Density Dodge"

Paul Krugman takes on the myth that the United States’ low population density is primarily responsible for the country’s woeful broadband coverage. As he says, there’s obviously some truth to the idea that there’s an objective difficulty in delivering high-quality broadband to low-density areas. But as Krugman points out, most Americans live in fairly high-density parts of the country — the big empty parts are mostly empty, and while they form a legitimate policy challenge they’re not the essence of the matter.

It’s also worth noting that America does contain some very high-density areas and it’s not as if New York City is light-years ahead of more typical suburbanized areas. What’s more, NYC contains considerably more people than, for example, Denmark so it’s not as if the high-density portions of the states are too pathetically small in terms of market size to get the job done. We don’t have a high-quality broadband infrastructure because we haven’t build a high-quality broadband infrastructure, much as many aspects of our infrastructure are sub-par. And, again, it’s not because we’re incapable of undertaking ambitious logistical projects — say what you will about the military bases in Iraq, but it’s an impressive engineering and logistical enterprise — we simply haven’t chosen to make it a priority.

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