America is a highly developed state. But the fact that 22.3 percent of Americans in rural areas and 27.7 percent of Americans in Tribal lands don’t have access to rural broadband internet is depressing. Nevertheless, the internet has become a crucial part of our lives now, and without it, life seems incomplete. (1)
People, without 4g rural internet, cannot access the basic needs of life, such as communication, education, and online healthcare facilities. Moreover, rural broadband internet is crucial for various industries like farming, manufacturing, mining, and forestry. It also boosts rural prosperity by providing fast and modern communication between homes, schools, healthcare centers, and global markets, connecting rural areas to the world.
In this guide, we’ll see how many Americans in the US have unreliable 4g rural internet access and what are the factors leading to unreliable internet across rural areas.
Number of Rural Americans with Unreliable Internet Access
According to a pewresearch report of 2018, about 24% of rural Americans say that access to a reliable internet connection is a major problem in their locality. Another 34% of rural Americans back this statement up as a minor problem. Summing the percentages up, about 58% of rural Americans have trouble with internet connection. That makes it 6 out of every 10 rural Americans. (2)
When talking about the internet, two main terms are commonly used: broadband access and mobile internet access. Broadband access can be considered as wired internet, while mobile internet, in contrast, is wireless. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defines broadband as having download speeds of a minimum of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of at least 3 Mbps.
One may suspect that with such groundbreaking advancements in science, all Americans would have access to unlimited broadband internet. But you’re wrong if you also think that way. A 2020 report by Microsoft says that 42 million Americans do not have broadband access –especially in rural areas. Their data also shows that around 157.3 million Americans are unable to access the internet at broadband speed. That is nearly half of the US population. (3)
On the other hand, while mobile internet is usually more widespread, it often falls short of delivering the required speed and reliability. Most rural areas of America rely on mobile internet, but the drawbacks lead to a seemingly never-ending digital gap. Despite improvements in mobile technology, the issue still persists. The rural internet options need to diversify if America is to stand as a strong state.
Factors Contributing to Limited Internet Access in Rural Areas
Here are some of the leading factors that contribute to limited internet access across rural areas.
Most rural areas feature an uneven terrain. The hills, mountains, dense vegetation, and open spaces make it propose several challenges. It becomes logistically difficult and expensive to install the necessary infrastructure for broadband connectivity. Furthermore, the geographical area can even obstruct mobile internet access, leading to an unreliable rural broadband connection.
Limited Infrastructure and Low Population Density:
The major cause leading to unreliable internet access across rural areas is its low population density. Rural areas face a scarcity of cell towers, leading to weak signals and unreliable connectivity. Most internet carriers don’t see any benefit in installing cellular towers due to the low population. Since a low population means fewer subscribers, the investments outweigh the returns. Fiber technology proves to be a good rural internet option, but rural areas lack this technology as well.
Affordability and Economic Constraints:
The few internet carriers in rural areas have high subscriptions. However, most rural inhabitants face economic challenges. As a result, the cost of reliable and unlimited 4g rural internet access is prohibitive for many households. This also restrains rural prosperity and rural inhabitants feel cut off from the world, as they cannot leverage the full extent of the internet.
The Affordable Connectivity Program
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) eradicates all hindrances and challenges to reliable, unlimited 4G rural internet access for rural inhabitants. This program utilizes government funds, offering a discounted price for fast 4G rural internet to deserving rural residents. Some of these programs are also permanent, allowing people to benefit from them while availing a significant discount on internet services simultaneously.
What is the current status of rural broadband internet access among rural inhabitants?
As of the latest available data, approximately 22.3% of Americans in rural areas and 27.7% in Tribal lands lack a stable internet connection. This lack of 4g unlimited rural internet hinders rural prosperity. The rural inhabitants also face consequences, as they feel cut off from the entire world.
What is broadband rural internet?
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defines broadband as having minimum download speeds of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of at least 3 Mbps.
How many Americans lack access to broadband rural access?
A report by Microsoft says that around 2 million Americans, particularly in rural areas, do not have access to broadband. Additionally, around 157.3 million Americans are unable to access the internet at broadband speed.
Why can’t rural people access unlimited 4g rural internet?
There are several factors for this. The low population density doesn’t catch the attention of internet carriers. Moreover, the geographical landscape proves a challenge to spread wires. The poor economic condition of rural people also is a hindrance to unlimited 4g rural internet access.
What is the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and how does it help in providing broadband rural access?
The Affordable Connectivity Program provides government funds to deserving households for reliable 4g rural internet access. It provides discounted prices for internet access. By offering permanent solutions and significant discounts, the ACP aims to enhance internet accessibility.
At the bottom line, access to 4g broadband is a major challenge for most rural areas in America. The government is trying to overcome this challenge by the ACP program, but so far, there has been little progress.
The unreliable 4g rural internet restrains rural prosperity and the people cannot leverage the full extent of the internet. This issue needs to be addressed properly and as soon as possible.
1: Federal Communications Commission. (2020). Inquiry Concerning Deployment of Advanced Telecommunications Capability to All Americans in a Reasonable and Timely Fashion (Report No. FCC-20-50). Available form: https://www.fcc.gov/document/new-fcc-report-shows-digital-divide-continuing-close-0
2: KIM PARKER, JULIANA MENASCE HOROWITZ, ANNA BROWN, RICHARD FRY, D’VERA COHN AND RUTH IGIELNIK, (2018, Aay 22) What Unites and Divides Urban, Suburban and Rural Communities, pewresearch. Available form: https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2018/05/22/what-unites-and-divides-urban-suburban-and-rural-communities/
3: Shelley McKinley, (2020, May 5), Microsoft Airband: An annual update on connecting rural America, Microsoft, Available Form: