Bridging the Digital Divide with Rural Broadband Access
If you’re like most Americans, you’re probably connected to the Internet upwards of 90% of the time you’re awake. You check your email on your phone before you even get out of bed — and your morning newspaper conveniently fits inside a tablet less than 10 inches tall. Chances are you haven’t had a landline in several years, either.
And you wouldn’t be alone…but just how common is this?
Of course major metropolitan areas such as Boston, New York and L.A. have vast broadband networks — but what about more rural areas? Are all Americans plugged in?
In today’s rapidly expanding technological society, many individuals are left out of the loop in the phenomenon known as the Digital Divide. This schism divides the world into haves and have-nots, or those with access to technology and those without. As the Internet and computer use begin to significantly infiltrate means of employment and commerce, those without access or the ability to use the technology effectively struggle in a modern world.
Conquering this Digital Divide is a major technical initiative of the U.S. government. By extending the reach of Internet accessibility to rural areas, the societies and school districts are strengthened and individuals are better prepared in a modern job market with an increased focus on technology.
The government E-Rate program offers financial assistance for telecommunications services to underserved school districts. They partner with industry leading broadband providers to bring high-quality Internet access to rural areas that major networks often overlook. The E-Rate program grants qualified school districts a discount of services from 20% — 90% depending on the location and the percent of students who qualify for free lunch programs.
Choosing a broadband service provider qualified for the government E-Rate program can be tricky. Search for providers dedicated to serving rural areas of America, and qualify as Priority One E-Rate Eligible Telecommunications Providers (ETP) as defined by the Federal Communications Commission and the Schools and Libraries Division of USAC. A leader in the K-12 broadband space is Conterra, an organization that has NEVER been denied E-Rate funding.
Extending your Reach
The concept of a Digital Divide does not only relate to school districts — it also deals with public and business Internet connections, as well. The same rural areas that qualify for the E-Rate program more-than-likely have subpar Internet connection for their everyday and professional usage. It’s important to align with a company that offers a variety of broadband services and solutions to fit any need.
By improving access to all underserved areas, the Digital Divide between individuals with computer knowledge/understanding and those without will decrease, giving the country and its citizens a leg-up in a growing global economy. Don’t let your rural location restrict your technological reach.