The US ranks only behind China and India for the volume of internet users. About 92% of Americans have internet access. When compared to global internet reach which is about 64.4% of the world’s population, the US looks impressive.
The results are very different in rural communities though. About 82% of urban populations in the world have internet access. Yet, only 46% of rural areas can go online.
14.5 million rural Americans have no access to fixed broadband services. And around 21% of people living in tribal areas have the same issues.
What is the Problem With Broadband in the Rural USA?
In some areas such as Kentucky, providers such as Broadlinc ISP are investing in infrastructure to bring broadband to rural communities that have been lacking access. But, many rural areas in the US are still lacking stable internet services.
The problem with rural broadband is that communities are often spread apart. The infrastructure is still lacking in many rural areas.
It might not be cost-effective to build broadband infrastructure for small communities in some areas. However, some local ISPs in Kentucky and other areas see the benefit of providing broadband to rural communities. Investing in broadband can bring long-term rewards such as customer loyalty.
How is a Lack of Broadband Impacting Rural life?
People use the net to catch up on the news, download music, and message friends. Internet access isn’t something to even consider for younger generations because it has always been available.
Rural communities don’t have the same broadband access. Almost 25 percent of rural populations cannot go online. The problems with a lack of broadband are far-reaching, and here are just six of them.
The issue: Farmers Lack Access to High-Speed Broadband
Living in rural areas means almost everything is in limited supply. Unlike city dwellers, rural communities have far less choice when shopping or subscribing to services.
Farmers need broadband as much as anyone else in business, but in rural areas, the choice can be lacking. Often, rural broadband will be slow, expensive, and unreliable.
Without broadband, farmers cannot access commodities markets to check prices or follow weather predictions.
The benefits of broadband to farmers
Farmers can use the internet to access other markets, communicate with customers, and fill out official paperwork online. The internet can be used alongside precision farming to increase profits. And according to US Farmers and Ranchers in Action, crop yields increase when broadband access is available.
The issue: Remote workers lack access to high-speed broadband
In 2020, millions of people started to work from home. Others who found themselves out of work started online businesses from their spare bedroom.
Remote working became popular due to lockdowns and necessity during Covid. About 59 million Americans worked remotely in 2021, and now around 73 million people are working from home. But, workers in rural towns have difficulty accessing high-speed broadband.
The benefits of broadband to remote workers
On average, remote workers recoup 40 minutes a day by not commuting. 65% of workers who responded to one study said they felt remote working was more productive.
The issue: Businesses lack access to high-speed broadband
Companies in rural areas can have problems attracting talent to come and work with them. And many towns in these areas need to boost their populations, but without broadband, it is hard to get new residents to move in.
Businesses may be unwilling to invest in rural areas that lack high-speed broadband. When towns try to attract new companies, they need to have good infrastructure including schools, hospitals, and interstate access. Broadband is vital too.
The benefits of broadband to expansion
Better infrastructure including high-speed broadband would help to attract more people. New companies would invest in rural areas, and the population would grow.
Existing companies could attract talent, and remote working would be more viable.
The issue: Vulnerable residents lack access to high-speed broadband
Rural Kentucky is soon to see over $180 million in broadband investment. This investment of federal money will help to build infrastructure so local ISPs can provide high-speed broadband to rural communities.
Some local ISPs are heavily invested in providing broadband in rural areas so residents have access to healthcare and other services. Many people in rural areas are isolated, and the pandemic brought this into focus.
Without broadband, residents don’t have access to telehealth, and communications with healthcare can be limited.
The benefits of broadband to residents
Isolated and vulnerable residents such as the elderly will benefit greatly from telehealth access and improved channels of communication.
The issue: Students lack access to high-speed broadband
Without broadband, students miss out on online lectures, access to resources, and networking with their peers
Many students used the internet for remote studying during the pandemic. Without broadband, this would have been impossible.
The internet is full of information and statistics. Students without broadband are missing out on a powerful research tool. And remote learning is impossible without high-speed broadband.
The benefits of broadband to students
High-speed broadband gives access to tutors, streaming lectures, talks, information, and research papers. To modern students, the internet is like having a library at their fingertips.
The issue: Families lack access to high-speed broadband
Most people take access to Netflix and Uber Eats for granted, but rural life can be different. Simple tasks such as banking become more time-consuming without internet access.
No broadband means no online banking, no paying bills online, and no online entertainment. Even messaging becomes an issue without a stable internet connection.
Plus, online security can be a concern without high-speed broadband. One of the better ways to protect yourself online is with a VPN. However, VPNs can slow down internet access. Many rural internet users can’t afford to slow their connections down more so they might avoid using a VPN making them vulnerable online.
The benefits of broadband to families
Broadband means rural users will have a safer experience online, especially when banking or transferring sensitive data. Families can enjoy streaming entertainment. And everyday tasks can be carried out quicker, freeing up time for other activities.
What is being done about improving broadband in the rural USA?
The federal government is committed to investing in broadband for rural areas, and the changes should be seen shortly. Local ISPs too are investing in infrastructure to build faster broadband services for rural areas in Kentucky and elsewhere in the US.
It is easy to find your ISP provider if you’re not sure. If you have slow broadband in rural USA, look at the alternatives. Some internet service providers are committed to enhancing infrastructure and providing broadband for rural communities.
Rural life has its challenges, but many people enjoy this way of life. Yet, even in the rural US, technology is still needed. Precision farming is more common now, and farmers need broadband to maximize crops and profits. Broadband helps students further their education. And remote workers need stable and fast internet connections.
As broadband investment continues in rural USA, different areas of life will see improvements. Businesses will be able to attract talent, and communities will expand. Even simple areas of rural life will be made easier, such as banking and streaming movies.
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