When will rural areas get good internet?

Posted 6/30/24

(BPT) - Do you live in a rural area? How’s your internet service? Is it good, bad ... or just not there?People in big cities usually have at least one good option to get strong internet. …

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When will rural areas get good internet?


(BPT) - Do you live in a rural area? How’s your internet service? Is it good, bad ... or just not there?

People in big cities usually have at least one good option to get strong internet. It’s a different story if you live in a small town. There is a big gap. And good internet is about more than watching TV shows or your kids playing video games. Good internet can help with:

Economic equality. With a strong internet connection, small businesses in rural areas can sell products online. Individuals can even start businesses right from their homes. This means someone in New York City can buy honey directly from a little business outside of Tupelo, Mississippi. Without the internet, that sale can’t happen.

Remote work. With good internet, people can work high-paying jobs remotely — no matter where they live. They don’t have to choose between a well-paid job and a nice life in a small community. Many people move away from big cities because they want a better quality of life, lower cost of living and more time in nature. When people can work remotely from rural areas, this brings more money — people spend money locally, and the tax base grows.

Educational opportunities. Good internet gives rural students the same opportunities as everyone else. They can access research materials, take online courses, and easily work with peers and teachers. Kids do not have to do homework in the parking lot of the local diner because they do not have internet at home.

Health care. In rural areas, the closest doctor or hospital might be many miles away. Broadband enables them to use telehealth, which helps people see a doctor online, without leaving home. A good Wi-Fi network in a rural area can also make it easier for first responders to provide potentially life-saving services.

There is a big need for good internet in rural areas. But delivering good internet takes time. Starting a local internet service is very complicated and expensive. The good news is the federal government is providing a lot of money to help rural areas get connected.

One program, BEAD (Broadband, Equity, Access & Deployment), provides $42.45 billion to expand internet access — specifically for remote and rural communities. Any business that applies for and wins this funding can plan, install and deliver broadband internet to rural areas.

But there’s a problem. The funding process can be complicated. If local providers do not apply for these funds, big telecom companies that don’t understand these communities as well might take over in their areas.

Local broadband providers are great for rural communities. In some cases, they are cooperatives (owned by members) or municipal utilities. They know their communities well and can offer a lot of exciting internet services, at a fair cost. They are flexible, open and understand the needs of their customers.

That is why the Calix Funding Consult Program is important. By offering expert advice, along with tools like automation and data analysis, the program helps local internet providers with every step of the BEAD process. This includes planning, applying for the money and following the rules of the program.

Over the past three years, this program has helped local broadband providers get nearly $2 billion in funding. This free program is available for any local business — not just Calix customers. It has been so successful that almost 75% of all government-funded broadband providers are Calix customers.

Calix has been in the broadband industry for 25 years. They have invested a lot in creating a complete broadband platform that helps local internet providers succeed. Calix is dedicated to helping local providers with Build America Buy America (BABA) solutions.

Are you a customer of a local broadband service company? Do you work for one, or do you know someone who does? Ask them to contact Calix for a free consultation about applying for federal funding. Because good internet means good living for all rural communities.