Skip to main content

Economic Perspective: Achieving Internet for All

NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences professor Dr. Mike Walden working in a recording studio.


“Today’s program looks at achieving internet for all. Mike, COVID-19 has dramatically increased the use of home internet – both for work and for education. Yet a commonly heard concern is the lack of high-speed internet connections in many of our small town and rural areas. Is technology being developed that could make this easier?”


“Well, and a concern is laying line, high-speed internet line, out in rural areas. That would be a massive project. Fortunately, technology appears to be coming to the rescue. In fact, this technology has been around since the 1990s, and it is to put small satellites in low orbits into the atmosphere. Those satellites, each satellite, can serve thousands, hundreds of thousands of people, and that can bring to them high-speed internet. In fact, the technology is already to do that.”

“Elon Musk, of course famous for Tesla and SpaceX, this is actually a project of his SpaceX program, and there are some other rumors that Amazon might get into this. So many of the experts who are looking ahead at how we can bring high-speed internet to rural areas say this is really the way we’re going to do it. We’re not there yet in terms of the economics, there’s some further technology that needs to be developed, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see in the next 10 years this is the way we service all the areas of our country with high-speed internet.”

Mike Walden is a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor and Extension Economist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at North Carolina State University who teaches and writes on personal finance, economic outlook and public policy.