Access Granted: Rural Broadband Options, Obstacles, and Solutions

Small Towns
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Written by Molly Malone, Center for Rural Affairs

Along with the weather, broadband access is a safe topic for small talk in rural communities. It is an issue for everyone in one way or another—whether directly or via grandkids who struggle to connect to classes, employees who drop out of Zoom meetings, or simply an inability to look up a recipe on Google. Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, inequity caused by lack of broadband has opened the eyes of those who have the precious asset and presumed universal access.

Broadband is core infrastructure. Without it, people cannot participate fully in our economy and society. If service is unavailable, unaffordable, or “dirty” (unreliable, weak, long lag time, etc.), it can affect the viability of a community. Growth, development, and prosperity require excellent internet access more and more every day. Broadband access is no longer a matter of convenience and entertainment, but overall quality of life.