“We’re being left behind. The consumer’s sitting there going, I feel like I live in Communist CubaÃ¢â?¬â??I’m forced to take what they give me.” So says Bill Haynie, a resident of the Sycamore Hills neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Ind., in a Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette article that reports Verizon is selectively deploying its high-speed fiber-to-the-home service in specific neighborhoods. Based on the furor over video franchise reform, which Indiana passed earlier this year, the immediate thought is that Haynie lives in a poor neighborhood. After all, didn’t anti-reform groups like Free Press warn us about new cable entrants like Verizon “red-lining” poor neighborhoods? “Cable and telecommunications companies are loath to wire low income and rural areas because they don’t find it profitable. Internet access is only available to those living near cable company networks who can afford to pay higher and higher premiums for service. Low income and rural residents are simply left behind,” FreePress declares at its “Defend Local Access” site. But wait, Sycamore Hills is the ritzy section of town, surrounded by a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course and where median home price is $246,000. “It is not poorer neighborhoods that have been left out of what Verizon calls its ‘life-changing’ Internet service, but some of the city’s wealthiest,” the Journal-Gazette reports. Perhaps thinking that it might get more for its marketing dollar if it sought customers where the incumbent didn’t, Verizon first rolled out service in Ft. Wayne’s Hanna-Creighton neighborhood. “Hanna-Creighton…beset by vacant lots and decaying homes Ã¢â?¬â?? is on track to be among the first areas in the Midwest to have Internet service that at its slowest download is 89 times faster than a traditional dial-up modem. At its fastest, the fiber-optic network is 536 times faster,” according to the report.
Steven Titch served as a policy analyst at Reason Foundation from 2004 to 2013.