More than 35 years ago, an American entrepreneur challenged the monopoly power and anti-competitive practices of AT&T - at that time the nation’s dominant provider of telephony services. Today, government leaders and entrepreneurs are challenging the dominance of cable companies who control broadband networks and operate as internet service providers (ISPs). Today’s challenge is driven by the digital divide and a digital equity shortfall in the U.S. which places many low-income households, students, small businesses, unemployed and rural citizens at a disadvantage.
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If the science fiction writers of the 1950s had been right, most of us today would travel around in flying cars and pneumatic trains. We would commute to work on high-speed moving sidewalks and zip across town in horizontal elevators. For short hops, we would wear personal jet packs or anti-gravity belts. Well, here we are in the early 21st century and we’re still waiting for buses, stuck in traffic jams and trying to walk across busy streets without being hit by a cab. Transportation has changed, but not in the ways predicted by science fiction. Many of the most important changes have been invisible.