As we continue to practice social distancing, access to the internet has become more important than ever. For those living in rural areas, connectivity is a critical component for creating access to resources, tools and opportunities to thrive and expand.
On April 30, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a study analyzing the benefits of broadband in rural communities. The report identified Achieving e-Connectivity in rural America as a cornerstone recommendation.
The report also finds:
● If broadband infrastructure and digital technologies at scale were available at a level that meets estimated producer demand, the U.S. economy could realize benefits equivalent to nearly 18% of total agriculture production.
● Of that 18%, more than one-third is dependent on broadband e-Connectivity, equivalent to at least $18 billion in annual economic benefits that only high-speed, reliable internet can provide.
● There is a symbiotic relationship between the potential economic benefit of broadband buildout and the complementary adoption of connected agriculture technologies.
● e-Connectivity provides improved quality and higher quantity of information, allowing integration of data to improve business decisions.
● It improves information capture, feeding data to the “Internet of Things,” and making it possible to automate activities.
● e-Connectivity offers real-time information that helps workers focus on the most pressing tasks and triage issues as they arise.
● It also reduces information asymmetries to make more efficient markets across geographies for both products and people.
“When we are able to deploy broadband ubiquitously, think of all the things we will be able to design, harvest, and develop,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “Broadband in rural America will be as transformative in the 21st century as rural electrification was in the last century.”
What are some other ways broadband internet brings rural communities together? Consider our top five benefits of reliable high-speed internet access.
Telehealth, or telemedicine, refers to virtual medical appointments or services and it is possibly the most important example to highlight when discussing remote care. More than 60% of those who live more than a 70-minute drive away from a physician don’t have internet service that can handle telehealth.
Rural hospitals and clinics can quickly and securely access larger medical centers with specialists and advanced equipment. MRI, radiology, health records, and speedy contact with experts, helps get proper treatment to patients more quickly.
It also allows patients to live chat with doctors from the comfort and convenience of their home. Doctors can use remote diagnostics and alternative healthcare delivery methods to better save lives.
2. Virtual Education
According to a 2017 congressional report, “America’s Digital Divide,” 12 million school-aged children in remote rural areas don’t have broadband access at home.
Amid the global pandemic, virtual education is another important benefit of broadband internet access in rural communities.
Both educators and students are calling for reforms and extensions of broadband deployment in rural areas, as extended school closures show how essential internet access is for education. With online courses and national testing materials available, schools no longer need to rely on outdated methods.
Not only does virtual education benefit the next generation with alternative ways to learn, most universities and colleges offer continuing education and degree programs for rural students, who may live hours away from the nearest campus.
3. Remote Work
The most effective economic development strategy for many rural communities is entrepreneurship. Considering the impact of COVID-19 on the labor market, many businesses have been forced to close, but an increasing number of companies have transitioned to remote work.
The defining aspect of whether a business can still function remotely is broadband internet access.
The perception that high-speed internet access is an essential tool for small business success and management is especially prevalent among youth, according to the Center for Rural Affairs. For example, one poll found 95 percent of individuals ages 19 to 29 “believe having high speed internet is important for doing work from home or managing a home-based business.”
To be able to work from home, employees need high-speed, secure internet that can handle group video conferencing, large file transfers, and online collaboration tools.
Another important point to consider is that the availability of jobs that can be done remotely is largely dependent on high-speed internet.
4. An e-Commerce Economy
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than $100 billion of e-commerce sales were facilitated by rural broadband in 2013.
Similarly, approximately $9.2 billion of retail ecommerce sales were facilitated by rural broadband in 2015. An estimated additional $1 billion would have taken place that same year had rural broadband penetration been equivalent to that in urban areas.
This number is growing exponentially.
Consumers are turning to the internet not only to shop, but to save money with promo codes, sales and free shipping. Broadband connects shoppers to savings.
5. Connectivity and Quality of Life
Broadband internet is what conquers the aforementioned Digital Divide and helps end the feeling of isolation experienced by many people in rural areas, particularly younger generations who must adapt to the use of technology to improve their future workforce opportunities.
Quality of life is living where you want without sacrificing the comforts of technology. More people move into rural areas where they can maintain their standard of living. When connectivity is optimal, existing or new businesses can reach the world, attracting high-quality, enterprising employees, no matter where they reside.
Broadband internet is a lifeline for rural communities, with the ability to transform lives and equalize access to information. That’s why at Colorado Valley Communications, we understand the importance of staying connected more than ever.
We’ve been serving rural Texas since 1953 with affordable and reliable voice and internet services. We offer high-speed internet to the following communities in our service area: Borden, Ellinger, Fayetteville, Flatonia, High Hill, La Grange, Moravia, Plum, Round Top, Schulenburg, Warrenton and Weimar. Click to see where we are building out our network and to request high-speed internet in your area.
Don’t have broadband in your home? Get started today by calling 800-242-5911.