Farming For Connection: The Advent of Rural Internet

It’s amazing the rate at which we’ve adopted and utilized the Internet as a general tool to benefit our lives. The Internet has ushered in an age of online management, where anyone has the ability to micromanage their lives through a multitude of sites and apps all with the goal of efficiency and ease. Some major cities offer a fully functional, low-grade WiFi service to metropolitan and inner city populations (such as San Francisco, Atlanta, etc.) and a plethora of restaurants and centers of high public traffic offer Internet access. The  proliferation of computer networks and related technologies has been met with much fanfare from urban areas, the targeted demographics for new technology, but this has also resulted in widening the gap between rural and urban communities.

If you’ve ever found yourself in a small farm community or township, no doubt you noted the lack of dedicated telecommunications towers or general Internet access. While the Internet and all its manifestations are widely used in most major communities, few companies provide their services to rural locations. It’s an understandable dilemma — the process for establishing network connection requires financial support and labor to set up equipment and lay fiber-optic cables, actions that would require significant funding and support from the communities they intend to reach. These communities have typically retained older technologies or methods, simply because of lack of awareness of new tools, but the Internet plays a vital role in the basic functions of most developed societies and these communities would no doubt benefit from the medium.

Despite the benefits a network connection would bring to many in rural communities, as it stands, many companies stray away from the insignificant rural markets citing lack of profit share or dedicated connections. This might sound like the death knell for Internet opportunities, but some communities are taking action. The citizens of Lancashire, England, tired of not having general Internet access, have banded together and provided not only the money but the man hours themselves to establish a viable network connection. Nearly 180,000 meters of fiber optic cable, not to mention the resources required to undertake such an effort, have all come from the citizens of the community and through their efforts their connection will rival that of most inner city services. Now, while most rural communities can’t afford to undertake such an ambitious plan, the efforts of those in Lancashire do point out the population support for such services. No doubt many communities will spearhead their own campaigns, some prompting for a service provider or through their community projects; it should be a primary objective to establish some sort of connection to these rural communities, not only so their voices are heard but to close the gap between the farm and the city.

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