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Closing the Digital Divide in Rural America

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Closing the Digital Divide in Rural America

Photo: Pinkbadger/Getty Images. Article by Phil Goldstein. StateTech Magazine – April 23, 2021.

The lack of access to high-speed broadband in rural parts of the country threatens economic development, experts say. Here’s the state of play on the rural digital divide.

Former congressman Rick Boucher spends a lot of time these days with his wife at a house high in the mountains of western Virginia, in rural Grayson County.

Boucher, honorary chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance, says that the local exchange carrier, CenturyLink, has not deployed internet access facilities throughout much of the sparsely populated county. By Boucher’s reckoning, more than half of the residents of the county lack internet access at home.

“It’s a major hindrance to development,” says Boucher, who spent more than two decades in Congress and served as chair of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet. “It’s very difficult to persuade companies that need to have fast internet access for their facilities to locate in a place where, even when the access is provided, it’s not the highest speed. And this typifies a lot of rural America, so it is a major need.” […]

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