People speak often of the “Urban-Rural Divide.” To some degree it is no more visible than in the difference between their access to broadband. Public Knowledge reports that as of 2018, 96% of citizens living in urban areas had access to broadband at home, while only 69% of rural areas had access. Just talk to residents of rural Goodhue County. Residents pay upwards of $140 per month for what costs $70 in the city. Furthermore, these broadband networks are either slow or unreliable. It is time for private companies to get serious about providing services.
The year is 2020 and particularly with pandemic, and people learning and working from home, it is clear that internet is not a luxury, it is a utility. It is as basic as electricity, water, and natural gas. Without internet, rural residents cannot take part in the economy, find employment, access eLearning, or apply for government programs. As an educator, I have seen what happens to students when they do not have access to broadband networks. Students that do not have internet access fall behind. Their productive work times take place only while they are in school. As schools push for more eLearning days to make up for closures, they could lose up to 7% of their learning time. This issue must take priority for families as the world changes.
Community broadband networks offer a solution. They remove the need to make high profits. Through community broadband networks, local communities take control of connectivity. Costs would become more equitable and affordable. The community controls broadband networks. Local communities are motivated to make the right decisions because officials can be removed through elections. They want their residents to be full participants in the 21st century. I will work hard to get grants and help from non-profit organizations. This money and support will help create community broadband networks. These networks make everyone's lives better.