Indiana’s Rural Digital Divide is Real, But There Are Solutions

While the digital divide may be shrinking in the United States, it is getting wider in our nation’s rural communities, and this is costing these communities $47 billion a year, according to a recent study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Amazon. With a rural population of roughly 22 percent, Indiana has reason to be concerned.

The digital divide “a gap in access to information and communications technology” was generally seen as shrinking in recent years with the proliferation of mobile phones, which provide some internet access via 3G or 4G technologies. However, as the role of digital technology expands to touch nearly aspect of our lives, cellular technology simply can’t keep pace.

Urban areas have responded by laying high speed fiber to meet the needs of today’s data hungry applications. However, the low density of residents per mile plus the high cost to install fiber make this unaffordable for communications providers in many rural areas. Even 5G wireless networks, which promise data rates up to 100 times faster than previous cellular technology, are out of reach for most rural communities because each 5G antenna requires a fiber data pipeline.

This excerpt and photo were taken from Inside Indiana. Click here to read the full article.

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