Michael “Hank” Wilson – As the 21st century continues to roll on it is important that the rural communities embrace broadband as a necessary first step to insure future viability. If rural communities are to retain and attract the younger generation, young and middle aged families, and even retirees, they must be able to show they have the ability to offer a sustainable lifestyle.
A rural community must be able to provide its citizens with some of, if not all of the amenities that exist in an urban environment. One of the best ways to insure survival is to close the digital divide between rural and urban America. Closing that divide requires the installation of broadband technology throughout rural areas. This will have both an immediate and long term positive impact on at least three primary areas. They are economic opportunities, health care services, and educational opportunities. Those three areas comprise the cornerstones of any successful community.
For generations the economy of many rural communities in America was primarily agriculture based. Over the past decades, farming and ranching contributions to local economies has steadily decreased. According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture from the USDA, the number of farms raising cattle dropped from almost 800,000 in 2007 to 740,000 in 2012. Even though the agriculture base has declined, the implementation of broadband will prove to be a benefit to the remaining farms and ranches. According to the USDA, “Larger farm businesses are more apt to use broadband in managing their operation; the more multifaceted the farm business, the more the farm used the Internet”. In order to effectively use the Internet, broadband is necessary. As a result, many communities have not only lost population, they have also lost economic power.
Installing broadband technology in these communities has the potential to replace that lost income and potentially increase the overall economic base. This is born out in a report from the 2009 USDA Economic Research Report, which compared the economies of counties that had adopted broadband early, “Wage and salary income and non-farm proprietor’s income were also higher in counties that had earlier broadband availability”.
The reality of the need for broadband for agricultural bases businesses located in rural communities cannot be overstated. It is not however the only reason, as mentioned above broadband implementation can have a very positive affect on the health and well-being of the community. I will take a look at that aspect in my next report.
For more information on Broadband in America, including my initial research paper on the subject, you can retrieve it from HERE