The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a $20 billion investment back in 2020, aimed at bringing broadband access to rural America. Committing so much money was a big step, but not the first taken by Washington. In fact, the plan represents Washington’s sixth try. Yet much of rural America still waits.
There are plenty of reasons explaining why many parts of the country still don’t have broadband access. Most of them are related to bureaucracy and red tape. But the reality is that rural America cannot wait any longer. High-speed internet access is no longer a luxury. It is a necessity.
Here are three reasons demonstrating rural at America’s need for high-speed internet:
1. Business Runs Online
Businesses of all sizes have largely abandoned old practices like writing letters and making phone calls. Email, cloud-based apps, and other online practices now rule the business world. A small business in rural America without broadband cannot keep up.
A case in point is a cattle rancher recently featured in a story from WBTV in Charlotte, NC. This rancher has been in business for four decades. Most of the people he does business with do things online. Without high-speed internet on his property, he is left to drive into town to do business on a public wi-fi network or face the prospect of losing out to the competition.
2. Schools Are Going Online
As you know, the COVID pandemic forced schools across the country to shut down. In order to keep the lessons going, public schools turned to online instruction. All worked well in America’s cities and suburbs. But in rural America, students could not do their work at home. They had to go to the local Walmart, coffee shop, or library to get online.
Kids doing their work from a parking lot isn’t good for them, their parents, or business owners. Working from a library is better, but library space tends to be limited. The best strategy is to keep those kids at home where they can do their work from the kitchen table.
3. Shopping Has Moved Online
Finally, online shopping has become so prevalent that local stores are no longer stocking a lot of the items they used to stock years ago. People have no choice but to shop online when they cannot get what they need locally.
Without high-speed internet, rural residents are left without the ability to shop online. Once again, they may have to drive into town just to purchase something their city and suburban counterparts could purchase from the comfort of their own homes.
So, is there a solution? Washington and the states seem to think so. They seem to think that continuing to throw money at building wired broadband infrastructure is the solution. Meanwhile, companies like Houston-based Blazing Hog are attempting to solve the problem from a different angle.
4. Wireless 4G internet
Despite spending hundreds of billions of dollars over the last 10 years or so, Washington still hasn’t managed to get wired broadband to all of rural America. Meanwhile, the private sector has established a 4G cellular network that already covers a lot of areas wired broadband does not.
These cellular networks give rural America access to the internet by way of 4G services. A 4G rural internet provider can offer comparable service on wireless infrastructure that works.
Perhaps continuing to build out cable and fiber optic infrastructure is a fool’s errand. A better way might be improving 4G and 5G capabilities to provide faster rural internet access wirelessly. Either way, rural America can no longer afford to wait.
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