The First Mile of Broadband Connectivity in Communities: Introduction to the Special Issue
In this special issue , “First Mile” refers to broadband infrastructure development that puts the needs of local communities first and ahead of the needs of private sector telecommunication corporations. This approach is one that prioritizes community-led solutions that seek to create local economic and social opportunities and to minimize the digital divide between rural and urban users (see: McMahon, O’Donnell, Smith, Walmark, Beaton, & Simmons, 2011). Around the world, broadband infrastructure and networks are rapidly being developed in communities marginalized in the network society. The relationships, structures and agreements put into place at this early development stage will shape how broadband systems are created and managed in the future. First Mile strategies include developing locally owned and managed telecommunication structures and networks. This special issue profiles First Mile projects and efforts that are as innovative, unique and vibrant as the communities from which they emerge. Further, this issue highlights some of the challenges facing First Mile initiatives. Several contributions in this issue deal with Canadian cases and others with remote and rural contexts around the world.
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