Published by Kevin Noll, Principal Access Architect
Why does a farmer need a broadband internet connection?
I had the opportunity to answer this question at Light Reading’s inaugural Bridging the Digital Divide 2023 Symposium, and I delivered a keynote presentation as part of the “Betting the Farm on Fiber” panel.
When we talk about bringing “fiber to the farm,” the phrase comes from deep-rooted stereotypes about rural America and rural economies—but preconceived notions of rural America are often incorrect. Many rural communities are diverse, progressive, educated, and informed. Though rarely associated with technology, agriculture is every bit as high-tech as other industries. Agricultural equipment available today can use sensors and geolocation to plant row crops with perfect placement, treat individual weeds, measure yields in real time, and deliver data to decision-makers in the field and in the office. Further, rural doesn’t automatically mean agriculture, as roughly 30 percent of nonmetro jobs are in manufacturing.
The real question is why does any home or business need a broadband internet connection? The answer is that broadband affects everyone in their daily life, from education to business success to property values. Access to broadband is a matter of equity and it can’t be simply categorized as a rural or urban problem.
It’s also time to reframe the wireless versus wireline debate. Rather than debate which one is the better option, we need to recognize that both are needed. Wireline is absolutely necessary to make broadband services available and reliable in nonmetro areas. Those who don’t have wireline will always be behind. Meanwhile, wireless is essential for everyday personal communications, public safety, emergency services, and other untethered applications.
Wireline and wireless complement one another.
Between the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act—together totaling tens of billions of dollars in federal funding—we have a chance to not only bridge the digital divide, but also permanently close the gap between served and unserved communities.
At Vecima, we believe there’s power in connectivity and are committed to building products and networks that erase the broadband gap. It’s encouraging to see and rewarding to be involved in events like the Bridging the Digital Divide Symposium.
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