In the age of smart phones and Wi-Fi connections, it’s easy to take access to high speed internet for granted. Our phones buzz, we get the news, post photos, and talk to friends. It’s just another part of everyday life, but that isn’t the case for everyone. Millions of Americans are currently without access to high speed internet – defined to be a minimum download speed of 25 megabits per second. Mostly in rural America, an inability to access the internet has profound negative effects on communities, both economically and educationally.
In Florida alone, at least 30 private colleges and universities currently offer more than 592 degrees and certificates through online courses. The University of Phoenix has become an online degree behemoth, and higher education continues to become more ubiquitous with an internet connection. Community access to high speed internet is correlated with higher income levels, more college degrees, and more job growth among residents.
This is an infrastructure issue; to be able to connect to the web, the proper broadband infrastructure needs to be in the area. A concerted effort to expand broadband infrastructure to rural communities, where in some places 99 percent of residents do not have broadband access, is an important step to improve the quality of life, and economic standing, of our rural communities.
We have written recently about Microsoft’s push to bring broadband access to every American, and the GAIN coalition hopes to see other companies follow their lead. A company with access to high speed internet will better be able to promote and grow their business. A young individual who can get online will be able to enroll in higher education programs and work toward a successful future. We hope to see every American gain broadband access soon, and are excited for the great effects that will have on our country.