[We’ve been known to rant about broadband access, so I was more than happy to bring you this guest post from the Broadband for America Coalition. -Becky]
Not so long ago, broadband access to the Internet was reserved for the largest corporations, the most expensive colleges and universities, and the government. Since then broadband has gone from “can’t have” to “nice to have” to “must have.”
In urban areas, broadband is easily obtained from a variety of sources. For many people, they can choose between a high speed connection from their cable company or from the phone company though a fiber connection.
For those in a rural area the choices may be … zero, and too often are.
We all understand the economics of cable service. If you live out of town, it is likely that the population density is too low to make stringing a cable to your home economically feasible. If you live on a farm, you might not even have cellular service until you get closer to town, so even mobile access to the internet is not possible.
In today’s world of high-intensity graphics on websites – photos, drawings, and videos – a dial-up connection is simply not a good option. If your children need to use the internet to do research for school, they are at a disadvantage to their peers in town who have a high-speed connection. First of all, dial-up access makes page loading frustratingly slow; second, if you have more than one child, then you already know the unpleasantness which can result from one “hogging” the telephone line, whether for the Internet or for talking with friends.
The Federal Communications Commission recently published its long-awaited National Broadband Plan. The central theory of that plan is that broadband should be available to every household and every business in America.
Just saying broadband “should be available” is not the whole story. The rest of that goal is that broadband should be available to every home and business in the United States at an affordable price.
Early in the 20th century, it was decided that electricity was so important, that power companies would be subsidized to bring service to areas which were otherwise unprofitable. The same thought brought about telephone service to every household – even if, earlier in the century, the best service available was a “party line.” Try to explain that concept to your kids some day.
Rural communities have a willing ear in their State capitals and in Washington in bringing broadband service to their residents. But a willing ear has to hear a plausible request.
Local Chambers of Commerce have begun to work together to urge better broadband availability. If you are in agribusiness, then your local farm organization is probably looking at the same issues.
Every business has an association. These are generally hierarchical – a local or county organization is associated with a state organization which is affiliated with a national group.
If broadband access to the Internet is important to your business – and it is – you need to get involved with the appropriate organizations and lend your voice, your pen, and your checkbook to making certain that in 2010 no community is forced to function with the technology of 1930.
Broadband for America is a coalition made up of over 200 organizations ranging from independent consumer advocacy groups, to content and application providers, to the companies which build and maintain the internet. Their mission is to make broadband access to the Internet available to every household in the nation; to provide data transfer speeds to make that broadband experience valuable to users; and to provide the bandwidth necessary for content providers to continue to make the Internet a cultural, societal, and economic engine for growth.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.