This week’s episode of Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj focused on something we all take for granted: the Internet. If you’re reading this article, or if you were able to catch this week’s episode, it means you have some way of accessing the Internet. What some of us, including myself, forget is that some people don’t have a way of retrieving Internet. Minhaj opens the show up by displaying newscasters reporting on topic related to this one, where many of them refer to the Internet as “crack,” and “meth,” because of it’s addictive qualities. Minhaj gives the audience a laugh by calling Snapchat “El Chapo,” in response.
Once Minhaj starts to delve into the details of Internet access, he explains that 30% of rural Americans don’t have broadband, which is a transmission technique allowing communications to be delivered quickly. It goes without saying that the Internet is really important in society now that it is being used in places such as schools and hospitals. Doctors use the Internet to connect with patients and colleagues all over the globe, which can give them more time to resolve a problem with a patient rather than have to spend that time traveling to them. Students, as most of you probably know, use the Internet to turn in homework assignments, work on projects with classmates, and study for exams. Due to a lack of Wi-Fi accessibility in many homes in Coachella Valley, California, the schools have started putting Wi-Fi routers in school buses and parking them in different neighborhoods so students from all over the district can finish their assignments. Since they began that course of action, their graduation rate has increased 8%. In other districts with a lack of Internet, some children will go to McDonald’s and buy the cheapest item on the menu- fifty cent french fries- and use the Wi-Fi there to do complete their studies.
— Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj (@patriotact) June 16, 2019
Minhaj does acknowledge the fact that he’s a bit biased to this topic- after all, without the Internet nobody can acquire Netflix. “…I love Netflix- because I love job security,” Minhaj states, laughing. He then begins explaining why rural Americans don’t have the Internet- and who’s keeping them from getting it. It’s complicated, but to put it basically, it’s because of the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and the government. There are five prominent ISPs: Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, Charter and Comcast. Comcast has actually been named America’s Most Hated Internet Company because of the terrible services they provide. The worst part of their company is that they don’t issue the Internet in rural areas because it would cost them a lot of money. Form 477, which was issued by the government, lets ISPs self report on how many people they’re reaching. Minhaj describes this as a sort of “grade your own quiz”. The problem with this is that the ISPs often round up, meaning if they count one household that uses their internet, they assess that the whole block does. These reports dictate the areas that get money from the Universal Service Fund (USF) which the government created to make sure people can pay for Internet. Therefore, people who don’t need the Internet are getting benefits from that money and people in rural areas aren’t.
The most interesting part of the episode, in my opinion, is when Minhaj explained how citizens in areas that aren’t receiving Internet are fighting back. People are using municipal broadband, which means they are creating their own internet service, which forces the top five ISPs to have more competition. Chattanooga, Tennesse is one of the cities that took part in this protest. Their decision to create their own internet resulted in Comcast suing them twice, but Chattanooga won the lawsuits and set up an Internet 200 times faster than the national average. This caused Comcast to have to compete with Chattanooga, which ultimately made their company better and their customers happier. However, twenty six states have banned broadband creation, which is holding some cities back again from getting Internet.
The best part of this episode is when Minhaj acknowledged how the people who can’t get the Internet, and therefore can’t view Netflix, are the ones who need to watch this episode so they can fully understand how they’re being cheated. Because of this, Minhaj announced they’ve put this particular episode of Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj in Netflix’s DVD rental service, making it possible for them to learn more about the issue. This week’s episode was fantastic, and I would highly recommend watching the entire episode to learn more about this problem. New episodes of Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj are posted every Sunday on Netflix and Youtube.
Featured Image via Youtube