The internet nowadays is an integral part of our lives, and it’s hard to imagine a world without it. However, its access is not evenly distributed, and rural areas are often behind urban areas in terms of Internet service. The lack of access to reliable Internet service in rural areas has become a significant issue, as more and more services move online, and people rely on the Internet for work, education, and social connections. In this article, we’ll explore the current status of internet service in rural areas.
Current Access to Internet Service
Access to the Internet in rural areas is limited by several factors, including distance, population density, and infrastructure. In many cases, rural areas are located far from the nearest internet exchange, which can make it difficult and expensive to bring reliable internet service to those areas. Additionally, the low population density in rural areas means that internet service providers (ISPs) have fewer customers to serve, making it less profitable to invest in the necessary infrastructure to provide reliable internet service.
As a result of these factors, many rural areas have limited access to reliable internet service. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), more than 18 million Americans lack access to broadband internet, and the majority of these individuals live in rural areas. In fact, the FCC’s 2021 broadband deployment report found that 80% of the 14.5 million households that lack access to broadband internet are located in rural areas.
The lack of access to reliable internet service has significant consequences for rural communities. For example, students in rural areas may struggle to complete online assignments or attend virtual classes, which can limit their educational opportunities. Likewise, businesses in rural areas may have difficulty competing with businesses in urban areas that have access to faster and more reliable internet service. Additionally, the lack of access to reliable internet service can make it difficult for rural residents to access healthcare services or participate in telemedicine appointments.
What is being done?
Efforts to improve internet service in rural areas are ongoing, but progress has been slow. In 2019, the FCC launched the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), which aims to provide $20.4 billion in funding over ten years to support broadband deployment in rural areas. However, the program has faced criticism for its approach, with some arguing that the funding model favors large ISPs over smaller providers and may not adequately address the needs of rural communities.
Other initiatives are also underway to improve internet service in rural areas. For example, some ISPs are deploying fixed wireless broadband technology, which uses radio waves to deliver internet service to homes and businesses. This technology can be more cost-effective than traditional wired broadband infrastructure, making it a viable option for rural areas. Additionally, some municipalities are building their own broadband networks to provide reliable internet service to their residents.
In conclusion, the current status of internet service in rural areas remains a significant issue, with many rural communities lacking access to reliable broadband internet. This lack of access has significant consequences for education, healthcare, and economic opportunities in rural areas. Efforts to improve internet service in rural areas are ongoing, but progress has been slow. More needs to be done to ensure that all Americans have access to reliable internet service, regardless of where they live.