The “Rural Electification” of the 21st Century

Conservative pundits and villagers like George Will are, by and large, idiots. Will made a comment years ago, where he said the one thing the federal government did right was Rural Electrification. Bringing electricity into areas outside America’s cities was an infrastructure task only an institution the size of the federal government could handle. Even a “small government” advocate like Will had to concede this.

The Internet is the next big “rural electrification” project. We’ve had two generations of “big government is bad”, however, so, for now, bringing the Internet to folks living outside urban areas won’t be a big-push, big-government concept. Fortunately, there are always folks who step up with ideas:

Near the shore of the murky Salton Sea in this southern California desert, a bus drives up to West Shores High School each day with a critical connection: A Wi-Fi router mounted behind an interior mirror, providing Internet access for students whose homes aren’t wired.

For openers, the notion of mobile Wi-Fi in a school bus is a brilliant idea. It’s been standard procedure on public transit buses in numerous cities for decades now. Put webcams in the bus and transmit the stream back to an ops center via wireless telco. This helps keep incidents and crimes on buses down dramatically. It does the same thing on school buses, where sorting out a fight or other incident involves a lot of he-said/he-said.

So, what to do with those buses when the school day is done? A lot of wireless telco contracts are priced on 24/7 service. If you put all those school buses in the district’s central parking lot, you have a lot of wasted bandwidth. So, put them in places where the average household doesn’t have Internet access. Those homes can use the