Giving Compass’ Take:
• Small rural communities in the United States have not had access to broadband internet access for the past two decades and this has severely limited their economic opportunities for growth and mobility.
• How can philanthropists commit to funding more projects in rural communities that will spur economic growth?
• Read more behind the reasons that rural America cannot get online.
Smart cities, self-driving cars, and shared mobility: All coming soon to a large city near you.
But what about the nation’s small towns and rural communities? Will they be a part of the self-driving revolution, or are they destined — as they have been with high-speed Internet — to be left behind in a growing two-tier, digitally divided, America?
It’s a question worth asking of policymakers because even if lawmakers have been hesitant to fund high-speed broadband in rural areas for the last two decades, the coming self-driving revolution means they need to rethink that policy now.
Today about 46 million Americans live in non-metropolitan counties, and about one in five households are listed as rural (about 60 million people). Of those, nearly 40% still don’t have access to even the low-bar minimum broadband speed of 25/4 Mbps (25 Mbps download; 4 Mbps upload) set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This means that even while cities and regional enterprise zones are flourishing in the gig economy, vast rural stretches of the country are still languishing with copper wire and turn-of-the-century-level broadband access.
This has only exacerbated the growing disparity — in skills, education and economic success — between smart, connected cities and rust-belt and rural America.
With their integral links to university and research centers, medical hubs and regional innovation districts, connected cities are benefiting from a virtuous circle of investment and innovation.
In desperation, many people — particularly the young — have simply pulled up stakes and left. Since 2010 more than half a million people have migrated from rural to urban settings.
All of this means that over the past two decades, large cities, suburbs and regional enterprise zones in America have prospered and grown by leveraging the benefits of a gigabyte-level broadband infrastructure, even as small-town and rural America has seen stasis and decline.
Read the full article about rural areas by Dale Neef at Smart Cities Dive
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