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Why Broadband Access Is More Than An Urban vs Rural Issue

Published by The Hill on May 13, 2019

By G.K. Butterfield 

Race and the digital divide: Why broadband access is more than an urban vs rural issue

The Internet provides practically infinite economic and educational opportunities for users throughout the world. In our increasingly digital society, one’s ability to utilize the Internet bears greatly on their potential for individual success and upward mobility. Though high-speed Internet has propelled the 21stcentury economy forward, it hasn’t taken every American along with it. Across our country, 24 million people lack access to high speed Internet, and millions of low-income families simply can’t afford it.

The current disparity in access to broadband is often viewed narrowly as a rural concern; however, urban areas face significant barriers to access as well. In those communities, the obstacles to broadband adoption are most often associated with affordability or digital literacy. While broadband is widely available, the cost of access is often prohibitive, and some residents lack the skills to use the technology effectively. In addition to the adoption problem, many rural communities also lack the infrastructure to consistently access broadband networks, especially through a fixed connection.