Every day, the disparity between broadband access in cities versus small towns and rural areas grows wider. Slow and unreliable internet service used by most rural Americans and many Valley residents lags far behind that available in large cities such as Austin and San Francisco. Therefore, efforts must be made to bring broadband service to those currently beyond the reaches of fiber optic and cable systems.
Firstly, Internet access is essential to all businesses in our increasingly connected world, and without a quality connection, a growing business may move away along with all the jobs it provides from a small town to an area with better service.
Also, a business might avoid expanding into an area where broadband is unreliable or prohibitively expensive.
Secondly, students in rural areas are at a significant disadvantage. Over 70 percent of teachers hand out homework that requires Internet access.
Stifled by low bandwidth or long delays, online video sites such as YouTube suffer from constant buffering, preventing students from watching helpful and educational videos. Taking online classes may be impossible.
Finally, without the Internet, urgent information spreads slower. Emergency management may have a more difficult time relaying information to those who need it most.
Unless we can expand broadband to areas outside of cities, approximately 20 million Americans will be left behind as Internet speeds increase and the Internet of things grows.
Ethan Floyd Harlingen