Fiber and the Digital Divide: Closing the Gap

Nearly every household and business in America today has reliable electricity and a telephone connection. A century ago, this was key to connectivity down the street and across the country. A phone line and electricity allowed businesses to flourish in big cities and small towns, spurring growth in both jobs and population.

The governmental oversight that encouraged this infrastructure paid off well into the 1970s. However, as the ‘80s and ‘90s saw the rise of the internet, its popularity and necessity, the fervor that allowed for infrastructural investments to connect rural America to city centers has been slower to take hold for the internet.

In rural America, 35 percent of Americans – or roughly 22 million people – lack access to high-speed broadband internet. This is compared to just 3 percent of people in urban areas. When every industry from health care and education to manufacturing and farming rely on internet connectivity, this digital divide between rural and urban communities hurts more than our ability to stream videos.

Rural economic development: The power of fiber

The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) defines economic development as “creating the conditions for economic growth and improved quality of life by expanding the capacity of individuals, firms and communities to maximize the use of their talents and skills to support innovation, lower transaction costs and responsibly produce and trade valuable goods and services.”

Today, companies like Amazon, Google and Salesforce couldn’t exist without cutting-edge high-speed internet access, but neither could companies like John Deere or Ford. Businesses in all industries need reliable access to high-speed internet to compete locally and globally. Connecting rural America with reliable internet access means those communities have equal access to the information companies like Salesforce or John Deere have, without the need to move to silicon city hubs.

Not only will existing businesses be better connected, but individuals will as well. While everyone who grew up in the country won’t want to live there forever, those who do are often pulled away by their careers. It’s unlikely budding entrepreneurs can run a start-up through dial-up internet, but removing that barrier removes limitations on where and when businesses can begin. The same holds true for large enterprises looking to expand. According to Broadband Communities, while “the presence of a robust broadband network may not itself be sufficient to persuade an organization to come to or stay in a community, the absence of such a network guarantees that potential employers will go elsewhere.”

Equal access to fiber broadband means rural Americans have equal access to opportunities in today’s information age, without the need to move away from the communities they love.

Indiana Fiber Network: Connecting Indiana 

Today, IFN’s 4,100 route miles of fiber optic cable is in 456 Indiana towns and cities. Not only are we investing in connecting Hoosiers across the state, we are also part of the INDATEL network to connect our customers across the country. Our highly resilient network guarantees you connectivity to complete the activities or research your business needs to compete on a global scale. For more updates, follow Indiana Fiber Network on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

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