Slightly more than 13 percent of the state of Illinois does not have access to broadband high speed internet, according to a recent article. This is a problem many rural communities in the United States face, as cable companies and other internet service providers have not found it profitable to service certain rural areas, leaving those areas without high speed internet, which is becoming more and more of a necessity in today’s web-connected world.
Because of the lack of high speed internet access, rural electric and telephone cooperatives are trying to extend their services to include fiber-optic broadband internet. Non-profit organizations trying to bring high speed internet to rural communities are facing some pushback from cable companies, who don’t want to compete with nonprofits for service, even though they are not providing high speed internet service to these areas. This leaves local potential internet customers driving into larger towns to use the WiFi at businesses like Starbucks and McDonald’s.
The only option for many of these rural potential customers is satellite internet, which is quite expensive and does not offer the same speeds as the web services brought by fiber optic cables. Many rural customers cannot afford this satellite internet access and must make do with dial-up or using the internet at libraries or businesses in the larger towns nearby.
The lack of internet access in rural areas puts people at an economic disadvantage, and the blocking of nonprofit companies and collectives from creating fiber optic networks in these rural communities is a real problem. It is important to keep everyone connected.
HughesNet is launching a new satellite to bring more affordable and reliable internet services to those people who are not in the service area of cable companies and DSL companies. Hopefully when that is up and running, satellite internet will truly be a viable option for these rural communities.