Despite broadband being an essential infrastructure for conducting basic socio-economic activities and reducing inequality and gapping the digital divide, expanding broadband coverage in rural areas remains a significant challenge due to high deployment costs. However:
Rural Broadband is not a Luxury, but a Necessity
Access to high-speed internet is no longer a luxury, but a necessity for modern life. Unfortunately, many rural areas still lack reliable broadband connections, which can have a significant impact on economic growth and community development. In this blog, we'll show you why Platocom is so invested in (affordable) rural broadband access, why rural broadband is so important and what can be done to improve access in these areas.
The Digital Divide: Understanding the Problem
The digital divide refers to the gap between those who have access to high-speed internet and those who do not. In rural areas, this divide is particularly pronounced, with many communities lacking the infrastructure necessary to support reliable broadband connections.
While the image to the left is the digital "highway" and reality in large parts of rural America, the image to the left is the one being sold by ISPs and telcos when they apply for federal and state funding.
The digital divide has a significant impact on economic growth, as businesses may be hesitant to invest in areas without reliable internet access. The lack of access to online resources (tele-health, cloud services, education, streaming, etc) can limit educational and career opportunities for residents of rural areas, and hamper economic growth and training of the workforce.
And we have not addressed agriculture yet! In America and 25% of farmers and ranchers do not have internet access. Imagine having to sell your crop, produce, wine, and livestock without access to the internet (other than on your smartphone)? Or embrace precision agriculture? That’s for a later blog.
The Utility Pole
This is a standard photo of rural America's technology infrastructure build today and in the 1930s. Billions of federal dollars earmarked for rural broadband, are installed on utility poles. Since 1935, when President Roosevelt signed Executive Order No. 7037 establishing the Rural Electrification Administration (REA), the utility pole has been a trusted part of the modern technical infrastructure in USA.
Economic Benefits of Rural Broadband - Duh!
Rural broadband is crucial for economic growth in rural areas. With reliable internet access, businesses can expand their reach and connect with customers and suppliers from around the world. This can lead to increased sales and job creation in rural communities. Additionally, rural residents, like metropolitan folk, can access online resources for education and career development, which can lead to higher-paying jobs and a stronger local economy. Investing in rural broadband is not only important for connecting communities, but also for promoting economic development and prosperity. And for ensuring that the next generation stays put.
Educational Opportunities and Access to Information.
One of the biggest benefits of rural broadband is increased access to educational opportunities and information. With reliable internet access, students in rural areas can access online courses and resources that may not be available locally. This can lead to higher levels of education and better job prospects. Additionally, rural residents can access important information about healthcare, government services, and community events online. This can help to bridge the gap between rural and urban areas and promote a more connected and informed society.
Telemedicine and Healthcare.
Rural broadband is also crucial for improving access to healthcare in rural areas. Telemedicine, or the use of technology to provide healthcare services remotely, has become increasingly popular in recent years. With reliable internet access, rural residents can access telemedicine services and receive medical care without having to travel long distances to see a doctor. This can be especially beneficial for those with chronic conditions or mobility issues. Additionally, telemedicine can help to address the shortage of healthcare providers in rural areas by allowing doctors to provide services remotely.