Internet Access in Rural America and Its Impact on the Economy

Posted by Olayinka Alawode on

The economies of rural America and urban America have significant differences in terms of the current level and growth rate. Whereas the urban economies are advanced and grow at such a rapid pace, rural economies seem to lag behind. Internet connectivity ranks as one of the factors causing this disparity.

Small businesses in rural areas require Internet access to take advantage of the opportunities that digital technologies offer. Unfortunately, this access is rare in the regions. The majority of the users have a hard time connecting to the Internet, while those who manage still surfer from slower speeds and constant drops.

Availability and Affordability

Availability

The Federal Communications Commission released a report in April in which it noted that close to 18 million Americans, mainly those in rural areas, did not have a broadband network. Critics argued that the report was inaccurate and that, in reality, the number was much higher than cited.

Upon review of the report independently, it was determined that the FCC significantly undercounted unserved Americans, who were found to be twice to what the FCC reported.

The disagreements in the actual numbers do not deny the fact that the majority of Americans do not have access to the Internet yet. That is quite disappointing considering that we are in 2020, a time when digital technologies shape the way we do things.

Affordability

We cannot ignore the cost element when discussing the Internet and its availability. In urban areas, low-income Americans may have Internet links outside their homes but could fail to install due to financial challenges.

The situation gets complicated when it comes to rural areas. For starters, populations are widely spread and can discourage Internet Service Providers from investing in the area. The few who manage to pull together required resources for such an investment are forced to revise their prices on the high end compared to what urban dwellers.

Unavailability and high-cost Internet expenses stand out as the leading factors that cause rural businesses not to explore the benefits that the Internet has to offer. Creating an ample environment where connectivity is fostered in the rural areas sets for rapid economic growth.

Connect all Americans to the Internet

Even though it seems like an uphill task, all stakeholders can play their role in ensuring that all Americans are connected to the Internet. As a starting, we should all demand high-speed connectivity. In 2015, the FCC advised that broadband delivering 25 Mbps download speeds and 3 Mbps as upload speeds were sufficient for use at home. The speeds would support application areas like video streaming and the simultaneous use of home devices. Times have changed since then, but the FCC is yet to revise its guideline. Some ISPs ride on this as an excuse to throttle down speeds allocated to rural users. By changing this guideline, users will know that they deserve better, and indeed they do.

It is not wise to consider the provision of Internet connection in rural areas as a prerogative of local telephone providers. For a long time, these have always received subsidizes to deliver the service. However, as most firms such as Nomad Internet prove, create a fair, competitive ground for ISPs allows them a chance to surpass their expectations.

When Internet connectivity in rural areas is fostered, we can expect crucial economic benefits from this. The ISPs serving in the area would generate revenue that is re-invested in the areas while some go to the local and national states. On the other hand, local businesses get broader access to the market, a fact that helps with rapid growth and development.



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