Rural Broadband Penetration Too Low

A friend forwarded to me a good article from the Rural Policy Research Institute on the need for broadband availability in rural communities and the frustrating lack of private sector initiative to provide it.

I am spoiled by the fiber-to-the-home initiative where I live in Provo as many Utahns are with UTOPIA. Our state and communities will benefit enormously by low cost broadband access. As I met with rural economic development leaders and entrepreneurs, access to broadband is a big issue for rural communities.

As Jefferson couldn’t “live without books”, I can’t live without books or broadband. In fact, in 1995 when I first discovered that the internet would be my most important tool for business success, I bought a satellite dish (a DirecPC dish) from CompUSA and have had high speed internet ever since. This was way before DSL or Cable was available in Provo. DirecPC is now part of HughesNet, the largest satellite internet access provider.

So my advice to rural communities is to try to get your county and city planners to realize that the economic benefits of rural broadband are significant, and that investing in this can do a lot for economic growth. Have them study public and public/private initiatives. But at the same time, take personal initiative to make sure you can get broadband somehow or other to your workplace if not to your home.

Speaking of high speed internet, I’m just switching from my T-Mobile wireless card (I think it gives me about 150kbit access) to a Verizon 1MBit network, so that my laptop access can be several times faster. I had the T-Mobile Merlin card, which was really slow, then upgraded to the EDGE network, which is better, but I understand Verizon is now the fastest network.

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