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Craig Settles

Craig Settles assists cities and co-ops with business planning for broadband and telehealth. He has surveyed economic development professionals nationwide about the impact of telehealth and community broadband, and offers guidance for federal grant proposals for broadband, telehealth, or other digital projects.

There are some policymakers, politicians and media pundits who can’t understand why low-income people who don’t have a certain technology will turn down the technology, even when it’s free. But one thing low-income folks learn, often from a young age, is that “free” comes with a cost.
Expanding broadband and health-care services is essential not only for getting everyone connected, but also for helping communities during and after tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters.
The COVID-19 pandemic and various studies have exposed nationwide disparities in who has access to physical and mental health care, and a recent funding windfall for schools and broadband could help close those gaps.
With federal funding for broadband in the pipeline, anchor institutions like libraries are well-positioned to make themselves available to increase patron access to telehealth services.
Chattanooga, Tenn.'s investment in community broadband allows the city to bring more than just fast Internet browsing to citizens.
In urban neighborhoods, where Internet service and health care can be hard to access, a novel pilot project uses local barbershops and salons as wireless hubs and hypertension screening centers.
The lack of physicians in rural areas could be offset by using telehealth delivered by community-based digital networks. That, in turn, can make non-urban areas more livable and sustainable for seniors.
Federal and state policymakers continue to ignore, weaken and, in some instances, block local input and control of broadband. This needs to stop if the country is to ever have viable, affordable broadband for all.
Using a unit as a base station, roving mobile medical personnel could provide assistance in homes or community facilities.
Health care and telemedicine delivery can make a strong financial business case that justifies community broadband investment, and makes it easier to raise money.