Farms could contribute billions more dollars to the US economy with the help of precision agriculture technology, but this can’t happen without more broadband, said experts during a National Telecommunications and Information Administration webinar. Titled “Smart Agriculture: Driving Innovation in Rural America,” the webinar featured, among other speakers, Megan Nelson, an economic analyst with the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Defeating the digital divide is much more than wiring up a home with an Internet connection. Families, particularly those with school-age children, often experience gaps in device access, digital literacy and cyberhygiene. There might not be enough devices, the hardware may be outdated or incompatible, and there may be a lack of security software. The household may also need training, have privacy concerns or require additional digital wraparound services. Our public library allies will continue to play a vital role in supporting these programs and needs.
Commercial satellite Internet has only been around for about 20 years, and it was highly limited at first. Despite the technology’s weaknesses, such as low speeds and data limits, satellite offered a path to improved connectivity for rural markets that had no other options. The capacity of satellite Internet will significantly increase when HughesNet and Viasat launch new satellites in 2021.
Three states have recently kickstarted their own broadband surveys — Washington, North Carolina and Alabama.
Currently there are 14 million people living in urban communities in the U.S. who cannot access telehealth service, yet the Federal Communications Commission and USDA will spend $5 billion this year to get telehealth and broadband to 4 million rural households.