Broadband: Rural communities have to have it

The EPA and ICMA (International City/County Management Association) have issued a very useful and readable report on "smart growth" in rural communities. However, the word "broadband" does not appear once in the entire report, and there no mention at all of the need for access to affordable high performance broadband services. I used to say that broadband infrastructure is the current day equivalent of water and sewer with respect to economic development, but I have switched to "paved roads." Why? Many rural residents have wells and septic tanks, and will never have public water and sewer. But those residents want and need the same kind of network access that is available in urban areas. Rural communities could not prosper in the twentieth century without paved roads in most areas (yes, I know that many rural residents still live on unpaved roads), but could you imagine a twentieth century town thriving with an unpaved Main Street? Today, there are many jobs and businesses that can thrive on dirt roads if affordable high performance broadband is available. Along with the many other good recommendations in this report, broadband needs to be included as a basic economic development goal.