Rural Americans have inferior Internet access

Does it matter that broadband quality varies so widely?

  • Communities with at least 3 mbps download speeds are shown in blue, on the National Broadband Map.

    Broadband map.gov
 

The 260 residents of Ten Sleep, Wyo., drive at least 26 miles to buy groceries and 112 to catch a plane. Local businesses include the Crazy Woman Café and Dirty Sally's, a soda fountain and souvenir shop. You wouldn't expect an Internet entrepreneur to launch a startup here. But in 2006, Kent Holiday did just that, opening Eleutian Technology, where local teachers tutor Asian students in English through live online videos. He now employs about 500 teachers around the region.

Holiday was visiting his in-laws when he noticed the local telephone utility laying fiber-optic cable: Ten Sleep was getting high-speed Internet. In 2011, President Obama used Eleutian as an example of the Internet's effects on rural economic development: "For local businesses, broadband access is helping them grow, prosper and compete in a global economy."

But such access – the basic modern infrastructure many city-folk take for granted – is far from universal. Of the 19 million Americans who lack broadband access – defined as 4 megabits per second (mbps) download speed, 1 mbps upload – 14.5 million live in rural areas. Thirty percent of Indians living on reservations also lack access.

Speedy Internet is not a panacea, but it can provide a much-needed boost. For rural residents, writes Sharon Strover, a communications professor at University of Texas-Austin, "having broadband is simply treading water or keeping up. Not having it means sinking." Now, projects to wire the Navajo Nation and other rural areas could help close the West's connectivity gap. Will they be the economic boon everyone hopes?

The more densely populated a place is, the more likely it is to have fast, affordable Internet. When people live far apart, service providers don't profit enough to cover the costs of building and maintaining the physical infrastructure. If they do provide access, it's often at higher prices and slower speeds than in urban areas. In the rural West, where 2 million people lack broadband access, topography is also a barrier. Mountains and narrow valleys can block signals from wireless towers and satellites and make it difficult to install fiber-optic cables. Silverton, for instance – population 637, at an elevation of 9,300 feet in a remote and rugged alpine area – is the only county seat in Colorado not plugged into fiber-optic cables.

As the Internet becomes a more integral part of daily life, people with shoddy connections are at an economic disadvantage. Fast Internet is necessary to take video-based online classes and to sign up for health care. (Imagine the horror of trying to navigate Healthcare.gov with dial-up.) Rural hospitals use it to video-conference with urban medical specialists, and schoolteachers increasingly record lectures that students can watch at home.

But Lawrence Wood, associate professor of media arts and studies at Ohio University, says the most significant drawbacks are cultural. "The main reason people use broadband these days is for entertainment," he says. Having a smartphone or a fast Internet connection "is really a matter of being a part of contemporary life in the United States."

Expecting the private sector alone to fill the broadband availability gap is unrealistic. So a number of rural areas have turned to community-owned networks. Powell, Wyo., built its own fiber-optic network, which a local Internet provider pays to use, and many of Washington state's public utility districts are doing the same, some with help from the 2009 stimulus. On the Navajo Nation, where fewer than 4 percent of residents have broadband access, the tribal utility recently received a $32 million federal grant to bring wireless service to the entire reservation. And in southeastern Colorado, a rural electrical co-op provides broadband in places like Two Buttes, population 43 – doing for Internet what it did for electricity in the 1930s.

But simply having access isn't enough; people have to actually use it. Broadband adoption rates are 13 percent lower in rural America than in cities, Strover found, with non-users citing high cost and the belief that they don't need to be online. But when rural residents use broadband, there are economic benefits. In a 2013 study, Strover found that rural counties where over 60 percent of people used broadband had more rapid income growth and slower unemployment growth than similar counties with fewer people online.

Broadband cannot, however, reverse long-term economic trends like rural-to-urban migration, or change proximity to a highway or the quality or size of the local labor force. "Most economic decisions depend on a multitude of factors," writes Shane Greenstein, who studies information technology and economics at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, "and broadband is but one of many."

While broadband helped lure Eleutian Technology to Ten Sleep, it wasn't enough to keep it there. After three years, the company decided to move. Eleutian needed a bigger building, but no water or sewer lines ran to the large lot it had bought a quarter-mile outside of town, and the cost of installation was too high. Plus, Ten Sleep lacked adequate housing for Eleutian employees, some of whom had to live in trailers, and the long drive to the Yellowstone Regional Airport was burdensome.

So Eleutian moved to Cody, population 9,500 – a city by Wyoming standards. A Cody-based economic development team secured a grant to build the company's headquarters, which Eleutian now leases with the option to buy at below market value in the future.

"We just couldn't compete with the bigger area," says LeeAnn Chenoweth, executive director of the Washakie Development Association in Worland, Wyo., which tried to keep Eleutian in Ten Sleep. "Having broadband can attract business, but places that have 200 or 300 people are probably always going to be challenged by the economy of scale."

NewTowncarShare News Classifieds
  • Exciting opportunity to lead the charge on meeting the future transportation demands of our community! This position will develop, coordinate, and implement the Integrated Transportation...
  • with Robert Michael Pyle September 26-30, 2018, in Missoula MT.
  • Boise State Public Radio is hiring a Reporting Fellow as part of a new nationwide collaborative, Guns & America. Based in the state capitol, Boise...
  • Middle Colorado Watershed Council. Rifle, CO.
  • RiversEdge West is seeking an entrepreneurial leader with solid nonprofit management skills to lead our high functioning team and help us make an impact on...
  • Conservation nonprofit Friends of Cedar Mesa in Bluff, Utah is hiring an Education Center Director to oversee the operation of the Bears Ears Education Center....
  • Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is seeking a talented, organized person with great people skills, who is passionate about protection of the natural environment to work...
  • The Wilderness Society is recruiting for an experienced Communicator for our Northwest Region. This position is located in Seattle, WA. For more information please visit...
  • Here is an opportunity to have a piece of self-sufficient paradise on Idaho's Main Salmon River adjacent to the largest Forest Service wilderness area in...
  • in 5-home conservation community & botanical sanctuary on 20 acres.
  • The Montana Wildlife Federation is looking for an enthusiastic and innovative Membership and Engagement Coordinator to help grow and maintain our grassroots voice for wildife,...
  • The City of Fort Collins is excited to announce a Sr Environmental Planner position within the Natural Areas Department. This position will be housed within...
  • on beautiful Snow Angel Ranch located within San Juan National Forest near Pagosa Springs, CO. Lakes, fly-fishing, swimming, hiking, mountain biking, horse trails, horse accommodations...
  • 5 acres, well. Abuts Carson NF; hike fish ski; deer turkey elk.
  • Paonia, CO - Part-time, live-out, Tues to Fri. Childcare and light housekeeping. Able to interact with children and speak English, non-smoker. REFERENCES. Contact [email protected]
  • The Marketing Director develops the strategy and leads all marketing efforts at NOLS. The director is first and foremost responsible for driving enrollment of over...
  • The Nature Conservancy, one of the world's leading conservation organizations, seeks a Program Manager to help advance our Sierra Nevada conservation and restoration efforts. Working...
  • Boise-based Winter Wildlands Alliance is looking for an experienced and highly motivated individual to organize our annual Backcountry Film Festival and Tour and coordinate additional...
  • Deschutes River Conservancy in Bend, Oregon
  • 9+ acre inholding. Passive solar strawbale off the grid and next to the Continental Divide Trail in ponderosa pine/doug fir forest at 7400.

У нашей компании полезный веб портал на тематику Нейрохирургия в Германии http://www.touristmedservice.ru/nejrohirurgija-v-germanii/
Нашел в интернете классный интернет-сайт на тематику японские соусы подробнее