As technology continues to progress, farmers, their families and other rural residents need access to broadband in order to keep up with changes in modern society socially and in rural businesses. Farmers need broadband to market their products, to manage the increasing amounts of data they handle and to submit documents required by permits to the government. Without proper access to the internet, it is difficult or impossible to complete these tasks, to expand or modernize their operations or establish new business strategies.
With broadband access, farming becomes more efficient and environmentally sustainable. Farmers can also access educational information online, which will help them improve their operations and maintain required certifications.
The lack of broadband access is a quality of life issue for rural residents. High-speed internet access can aid in the goals of improving workforce readiness, bringing younger generations back to rural areas and improving community development by meeting business needs. In regards to education, many school systems are looking to add rigor to STEM courses through web-based learning. Without broadband access, many rural and small-town students are disadvantage. Students should not have to go to McDonald’s or the library parking lot for internet access to finish homework.
The two main roadblocks remain finding a financing framework that improves the return on investment for expanded broadband to less densely populated areas and the lack of coordination in implementation efforts.
Tell legislators about your own personal story of how lack of broadband impacts your life and business. It’s like any other challenge we face, if you don’t speak up, no one will be hearing your side of the story.
We can’t wait and hope for new technology to fix a problem that has existed for years and can be addressed now. There is no one technology or model that will fill the need felt in the majority of the state.
We need to identify partners to help achieve the goal of broadband to the last mile. Who can be a thought leader in your county on broadband? Can your county Farm Bureau play a significant role? Potential partners need to hear from you about the need and how the expansion of sufficient broadband services will support local economic development and education. Broadband availability is a necessity for strong and growing communities.
Potential partners in the push for broadband to the last mile include:
Local elected officials such as county commissioners and mayors
Local Exchange Carriers
Small businesses in your community that need service