Across both the United States and Canada, the pandemic has fueled a widespread emigration out of cities and major urban areas to more rural regions. With the rise in remote working, young professionals and families prize the space, quieter communities, and more affordable housing options these regions offer.
This trend has further exposed the lack of high-speed internet in rural areas across North America. In fact, only 65% of residents in rural USA have access to broadband, according to the FCC. In Canada, the CRTC estimates only 46% of rural households do.
Of course, remote workers aren’t the only ones who require high-speed internet in rural communities. As the global economy grows more dependent on connected technology, everyone from farmers to librarians can stand to benefit from broadband access.
Building stronger communities
Fixed high-speed internet has the power to strengthen smaller more remote rural communities by better connecting them with the global economy, as well as with resources and people that would otherwise be out of reach.
Empowering small businesses
For rural and home-based businesses, reliable broadband access is essential for lowering costs and growing revenue. Connection outages or drops can cost real dollars and activities like virtual video meetings require the kind of bandwidth only broadband can deliver.
Expanding health care options
In the world of health care, high-speed internet access in rural households greatly expands access to health care, particularly to specialists who may be located far away. Virtual healthcare options, including video call appointments with medical professionals, require large bandwidth with reliable connections.
Improving access to educational resources
A common story in remote communities is that young people leave to pursue education after high school. Today, the expanding world of online education—including well-known post-secondary colleges, universities, and trade schools—is only a click away. But a lack of access to high-speed internet is a barrier. Many of these programs utilize cloud computing, virtual meetings, and other high-bandwidth activities.
Creating more efficient farms
For farmers in rural communities, an emerging market of smart technology designed specifically for agriculture can give them real-time access to vital info from sensors placed around their land holdings. This would require wired high-speed internet to their main building, plus a combination of transmitters and wired internet to other areas on their farm.
Empowering autonomous farms
Beyond helping farmers gather critical data in real-time, a high-speed internet network on their farm can open them up to the potential of using autonomous farming equipment, such as John Deere’s new self-driving tractor. Using this equipment can increase productivity and lower labour costs.
Bringing high-speed internet to rural homes
In both Canada and the United States there are federally driven initiatives in place to bring high-speed internet to rural communities.
In the United States, the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund has already awarded $9.2 billion to providers to bring broadband to 5.2 million homes across 49 states. In Canada, the Universal Broadband Fund is expected to award up to $2.75 billion to expand high-speed internet access in rural communities across the country.
As broadband is brought to more rural areas across North America, it’s important for integrators and electrical contractors to remember that FTTH/FTTP networking shouldn’t stop at the door. In today’s heavily connected world, with so many devices competing for bandwidth, it’s more important than ever for broadband and fiber connections to be brought into and distributed throughout the home via dedicated media panels and Ethernet access points.