Transforming Rural Economies: Bridging The Digital Divide (excerpt)
by Maine State Representative Diane Russell
Growing up in Bryant Pond, about as rural as it gets in Maine, taught me a little something about being at the tail end of innovation. The last crank phone operator station in the country was located right down the street from our home. While the celebrity status is great, the educational piece was the vigorous debate over whether or not our town should upgrade to that fancy new technology — the dial tone.
Wayne Caswell (Modern Health Talk) posted the following comment:
We all know that technology and the Internet are keys to telemedicine, telework (jobs), distance learning, e-commerce, and e-government, but the latest FCC report to Congress says a full one-third of U.S. households lack broadband access. That’s either because they have no access to it or because it’s too expensive or they lack the skills or perceived need.
So, are we willing to write-off entire sectors of our population and give them inferior healthcare and access to jobs, commerce and government because they’re poor, black, Hispanic, elderly, live in rural communities, and don’t have broadband Internet access? Or are we going to fund computer literacy and universal access to broadband? Which is cheaper or better? We can’t always rely on Market Forces. Sometimes public funding is warranted – like NOW (or actually 20 years ago).