I’ve argued before that having internet, high-speed internet to be specific, is becoming a staple in our world but so many rural towns in North Carolina are lacking, especially here in the western part of the state. In some counties, a handful of providers, if not only one or two, are all that’s available and for some homeowners there is simply “nothing to be done”, according to these providers, because of their location. Yet, more of the world is moving to requiring internet access, for nothing else than because it makes life easier in a lot of ways.
There are those who need internet access to apply for jobs but also for resources like online health services or for school. Imagine, in years where snow has hit our state hard and caused the need for Saturday school or extended the school year, how nice would it be if students could complete some online assignments and not have to extend their school week or year as a result of weather?
An article from ABC 12 rightly states, “Too many communities across the state lack broadband speeds that are critical to doing homework, applying for a job, or seeing a doctor without leaving home. Rural parts of the state are the most dramatically affected by this digital divide.” See, again, there are services that are more commonly face-to-face that are moving to having online options. Degrees can be earned, a doctor’s visit can be had, and so much more can be done online through video chat or distance education options, but they all require quality, reliable internet.
Carolina Public Press said in an article last year, “Education is probably the most gripping and illustrative example of why this infrastructure, this service has gone from something that is an amenity to something that is required. A lot of learning has gone online.” This again, is showing there are many people who understand we live in a world where being online is something that offers numerous benefits and resources, especially in rural areas.
Yet, we have a long way to go. For started, state and federal officials have to be willing to make drastic investments in getting rural N.C. wired and holding service providers accountable when they don’t meet this need. Furthermore, that all might be less of a hurdle if more people would just express their want of high-speed internet in their area. Sadly, we have a lot of folks who don’t see internet access as a need and we’ve got a younger generation missing this opportunity because they are going without as well.
While having the internet isn’t up there with water and shelter, it can benefit someone a great deal, and things like online doctor visits are a strong argument for that alone. But, again, we have to get one voice from rural North Carolina to demand change, otherwise it’ll likely be slow-going for high-speed internet access in our state.