netameria+rural broadbandThree out of four rural residents say having high-speed Internet at home is important to maintaining their quality of life, according to a recent survey of 800 rural residents conducted by the NetAmerica Alliance and shared with Telecompetitor.

The survey also found that nearly nine in 10 rural residents believe that local access to well-performing technology is economically vital, while two-thirds of respondents say access to the Internet for communications and entertainment plays a major role in allowing them to live in a non-metro area.

I got these results just a couple of days after I had a sobering conversation with respected financial analyst Mike Balhoff, who made a compelling case for why he does not believe policymakers are making sufficient funding available to make broadband available to all Americans. By his analysis, there will actually be less funding available to complete the nation’s broadband build than is currently available to support universal voice service.

If Balhoff’s concerns are correct, we may find that incumbent carriers decline to provide service to some unserved high-cost areas and that no one bids in reverse auctions to take the incumbents’ place. If so, any areas that remain unserved run the risk of decline as residents move to areas where they can get broadband.

The NetAmerica research certainly underscores the idea that if plans for universal broadband were to fail, many residents of unserved rural areas would indeed migrate to where broadband is available.

NetAmerica also did focus groups with rural residents, who made comments such as “Would I stay in a town like this after I graduate? Probably not without the Internet.” Or “Making it so people can stay where they’re at and get the benefits of a big city. That would be huge.”

High-speed 4G wireless could help fill in the gap – at least for some time or for some people, NetAmerica’s research suggests. Three in five rural residents have heard of 4G or 4G LTE, and the numbers are higher in the younger generation. Nearly 80% of respondents aged 18 to 29 and more than two-thirds of people aged 30 to 49 had heard of 4G or 4G LTE.

Three in five respondents said they would subscribe to 4G if it were available. And half of respondents said the Internet is important when they are mobile.

Other highlights of the NetAmerica research:

  • 92% of rural residents prefer to do business locally
  • 89% of rural residents feel a responsibility to help make their community a better place to live
  • 72% and 73% of rural residents aged 30 to 49 own a desktop or laptop computer, respectively.
  • Even among those 65 years and older, desktop computer ownership is 59% and laptop computer ownership is 44%.
  • Fueling interest in 4G are “faster browsing and downloading speeds,” cited by 59% of respondents, followed by “improved content streaming” (25%).


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12 thoughts on “Report: 75% of Rural Dwellers Say Broadband Important to Quality of Life

  1. The article neglects that not only is broadband already available to a majority of rural residents, but that a large percentage of them are unwilling to pay even basic rates for service.

    1. wtf are you talking about? and satellite internet doesn't count. not even close to broadband internet.

      1. i guess you have never ventured west of the mississippi river. there are still plenty of people who can't get broadband internet

    2. I am so tired of city dwellers claiming to know what rural life is like. We do NOT have broadband. Satellite does NOT count. You try living on 250MB daily cap, speedtest of 0.75 Mbps at $59.00 a month with a $250 install. What's your daily cap, how fast is your connection and how much did you fork up to install cable or dsl?

  2. What is interesting here is the comparative experience of the UK and the US. In the UK we have a poor understanding of the scale of the US infrastructure problems. While here in the UK we cannot understand how, as a nation, we can struggle with the problem in a place that is so small.

    What would be interesting to know would be how many communities west of the Mississippi use a combination of satellite and mesh wireless to create community based solutions as an interim infrastructure solution; demonstrating demand, creating awarreness amongst non users, developing a market and, perhaps, building social capital. Or am I just being fanciful?

  3. When i lived in NY and FL i had NO IDEA that so many ppl outside of city dont have access to broadband – this is insane – country that INVENTED internet cannot provide it to SO MANY people its disgusting – i got married and moved to my husband's family property in GA – we were fighting ATT for over a year – dsl line ends a mile away from our house and they refuse to put another box and extend line further and its not just for my family – there is at least 14 more households on the road ( that is about a mile long) that would be HAPPY to get dsl and pay whatever it cost – but NO – so dont give me crap about "ppl dont want to pay" – my neighbours pay 100$ a month for hughsnet satellite – and u saying that wouldnt cash out 15-30$ that ppl in the city pay?

    1. Trouble is that your 14 neighbors actually WON'T pay "whatever it takes".
      They won't even pay urban cable-modem rates of $50/month.

      City folk aren't paying $15-30. Those are loss-leader, temporary, or subsidized rates, before taxes and fees and usually require a $30+ phone line.

      We invented a lot of things in this country, that doesn't mean the taxpayers or your community has to provide them to you. Internet access is available at the same penetration rate as universal telephone service. Making it faster so you can use VOIP, Skype, Netflix or other pay-tv functions – well, sorry, that's on your dime, not mine.

      If you wanted to justify state-level, not national, funding to broadband the countryside, the most winning argument would be home-schooling. By waiving your rights to have the rest of us pay for your rural kids' education @ $10-30K/year, I think we might be willing to front-end the $5K and flatten the access rate to $50/month, waived for edu-only traffic.

      1. Internet access is NOT at the same penetration rates as telephone service, otherwise I would be able to get something other than satellite internet.

        The problem is that internet and teleco providers only care about short term profits and their stockholders. They fail to look at the long term.

        you are just a misguided city slicker who has had everything handed to you on a silver platter

      2. Fred, there are immutable laws (Moores and Metcalfes) that monopolies can't stand. The smartphone is the great equalizer and people want the same bandwidth everywhere. Bandwidth is 20x more expensive than it should be today. Something's gonna give. Don't look at the current static picture and extrapolate. Lastly, in a lot of competitive models, basic access is given away for free (800, VPN, advertising, etc…). No reason we need to be held hostage by monopolies and bad regulators.

  4. And at the same time ATT gets grants from FCC to "provide broadband in rural areas" but use those money for city lines or another example (from att technician) they put UVERSE box in the middle of a FIELD with NO HOUSES withing a MILE range… no comment.
    and how about government program to pay for internet and comps to trash that cant afford paying for it themselves … HOW ABOUT GIVE INTERNET TO PPL THAT WOULD PAY?? jees India is in better shape then US when u talk about broadband – this is ridiculous.

  5. In my area, fixed wireless broadband is the answer. With my provider, I can spend $20 a month for 1mb download, no monthly cap. They have plans all the way up to 8mbs for $80 a month.

  6. As a Network technician for a local IT Firm living in Rural ND I can confirm that not only is this a problem, but it's one that no one seems to care about. Even living inside the Bakken Oil Field isn't enough incentive for local ISP's or National ISP's to extend their services. The particular location that I live in is unable to recieve anything but the slowest speed capped satellite services because Quest/CenturyLink own the telecom rights to our area, but have no intention of ever developing anything in the region. I and all of my neighbors would happily pay 80-100 dollars a month for even a 3mbps service, instead of the .3mbps service that we are forced to live with now.

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