High-speed Internet/broadband is not thought of as a good listicle topic or the subject of popular memes though before 2020 it related to sites like Netflix, Disney Plus, and Apple TV+ However, with the COVID–19 onset gripping the country families can find everyone in the house trying to attend either virtual school or work causing network meltdown.

Broadband is accessible in large cities with high population density though is not accessible in rural areas across America. In fact as referenced in this Marketplace article from over a year ago, rural broadband is a growing concern.

The investment to build high speed networks to rural areas is challenging as the potential customers to payback the company for investment costs and any board of directors or CEO will face tough questions on a loosing enterprise. Yet, having access to broadband is more crucial for moments like now amid a National crisis and everyday life as more government services move online.

The Federal Communications Commission does provide grants to communities for broadband though those are all based upon maps, which have been shown to be imprecise due to how connected households are counted.

That’s because if just one home or business in a census tract has broadband access, the FCC counts the whole block as served.

When there is no solid internet connection in the community then the de facto resource is the public library.

Patrons visit the library 24 hours a day to go online. At night, they pull into the parking lot to connect via Wi-Fi.

Given the new administration we have a rare opportunity for a private public partnership that would have bipartisan support and bring value to citizenry. We need to bring together a storied foundational government institution and then private partners to revitalize the initiative. We need the US Postal Service.

While the US Post Office has been beleaguered of late the institution has a proud and honored history as referenced in How the Post Office Created America by Winifred Gallagher.

The early history of the US Postal ServiCE is fascinating with it being an information network the interconnects a fragile country. In fact, that connection is so important that the US Post Office is enshrined in the constitution:

Section. 8.
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

Post Offices form the web that connects citizens across the country and allow for goods and information traverse society. Yet, post roads are not as self-evident. The Library of Congress has a digitized map showing the post roads as of 1796 (estimated) and the map shows how roads connect population centers for mail delivery.

I would argue with the rise in email and digital services that broadband is the new Postal Road and Congress has the power to create a national broadband network through the US Post Office.

The Post Office would build the infrastructure and then lease time to private operators who would charge to run their services with minimal fees to maintain the network. This way we can ensure the coverage is appropriate throughout the country and we can guarantee Internet access to homes across the country.

Beyond ensuring access, this model would allow for greater competition among service operators as they would be spared the gargantuan costs in implanting infrastructure and could focus on consumer service. This would open larger consumer basis for companies throughout the US too and allow for new classes of entrepreneurs to start up companies.

Links: Hunt, E. (2019, October 23). Rural broadband is a problem, and Georgia is mapping it - Marketplace. Marketplace. https://www.marketplace.org/2019/10/23/rural-broadband-is-a-problem-and-georgia-is-mapping-it

Bradley, Abraham, William Harrison, and W Barker. A map of the United States exhibiting post roads & distances: the first sheet comprehending the nine northern states, with parts of Virginia and the territory north of Ohio. [Philadelphia?: Abraham Bradley Junr., ?, 1796] Map. https://www.loc.gov/item/2004633148/.

Smith, S. V. & Cardiff Garcia. (2020, August 27). What A Piece Of Work Is The Post Office. NPR. https://www.npr.org/2020/08/27/906817408/what-a-piece-of-work-is-the-post-office

The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription. (2015, November 4). National Archives. https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/constitution-transcript