The Internet is NOT Helping Rural America

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This post is not intended to be a criticism of life in rural America. Nor am I pretending to be an expert on the economic fortunes of people living there. But I’ve driven long distances through remote rural areas, and it’s hard to ignore the often obvious economic distress of many who live there.

While much of urban America has grown and prospered since the end of World War II, many of the rural areas have either stagnated or declined. Perhaps the best evidence is the stunning number of young people who have left rural America for the cities.

The Internet is NOT Helping Rural America
The Internet is NOT Helping Rural America

I once expected the Internet to be an economic equalizer, that would largely put rural America on an equal footing with metropolitan America. Instead, it seems the Internet is not helping rural America. While much of metropolitan America charges forward into Internet-based prosperity, rural America seems to only be falling farther behind. It’s a major component of the infamous economic divide.

How can that be, given that the Internet is no respecter of geographic boundaries?

The Growing Divide Between Rich and Poor Even Extends to Internet Usage

An article on MarketWatch a couple of years ago offered in interesting insight on internet usage differences between rich and poor kids. Rich kids use the Internet to get ahead, and poor kids use it ‘mindlessly’. The article doesn’t specifically deal with rural-vs-metropolitan kids, but much of the economic divide today is based on geography.

The article noted the following, quoting from Robert Putnam, author of Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis:

“Compared to their poorer counterparts, young people from upper-class backgrounds (and their parents) are more likely to use the Internet for jobs, education, political and social engagement, health and newsgathering, and less for entertainment and recreation…Affluent Americans use the Internet in ways that are mobility-enhancing, whereas poorer, less educated Americans typically use it in ways that are not.”

It’s Only Getting Worse – The Formation of Tech Hubs in the Big Cities

Another interesting article pointing in the same direction – but to an even more extreme degree – appeared last summer on Zero Hedge. Small Town Suburbia Faces Dire Financial Crisis As Companies, Millennials Flee To Big Cities reported that a large number of big-name companies are abandoning leafy suburbs in favor of big-city downtown areas.

Highlighted in the article were companies such as McDonald’s, GE, Aetna and Caterpillar. Each was leaving some suburban community or small city in favor of the downtown areas of the likes of Chicago, San Francisco, Boston and New York City. Presumably this is a trend happening with major companies and in large cities across the country.

It’s already been well documented that manufacturing concerns have pulled out of rural America, in favor of foreign locations. But the movement of large companies back into big-city downtown areas points to something perhaps equally significant. The Zero Hedge article says the reason companies are relocating to big cities is so they can be near tech incubators.

The tech incubator concept seems to be very real, as another factor playing against rural America.

While the Internet boom should have theoretically spread across the country just about equally, the opposite has actually happened. The Internet – and the general tech boom it created – is concentrated in the large metropolitan areas. Now it’s becoming even more concentrated still in big-city downtown areas.

It seems to be an attempt by large companies to move tech operations into big-city downtown areas, which have a large number of young, well-educated, and very tech-literate workers. In other words, the tech industry is concentrating in hubs.

If anything, this is only further isolating the technical class from the rest of America.

Just as Money Goes to Money, So Apparently Tech Goes to Tech

This might be a critical reason why the Internet boom is not helping rural America. Rather than spreading across the country in something of an economically democratic fashion, the tech boom – including the Internet – has mostly festered in the large metropolitan areas. The technological brain centers are increasingly becoming big-city downtown areas, which apparently are beehives for the tech crowd.

Perhaps this shouldn’t be a surprise, given that the industry has so heavily centered in California for much of its evolution, but more specifically in Silicon Valley.

Concentrations have created greater exposure to tech and the Internet in large metropolitan areas in general. If you work in a tech or Internet related job, not only are you more likely to take advantage of it in your personal life, but you’re also more inclined to extend it to your family. That includes, first and foremost, your children.

Kids in large metropolitan areas, particularly those centered around major tech cities, grow up with the Internet as second nature. Not only do they embrace it more quickly in life, but they do it more thoroughly. Yes, it may involve gaming and entertainment initially. But eventually, and spurred on by their parents and others, they gradually embrace the more productive capabilities of the web.

As young people in large metropolitan areas become more web savvy, it becomes a general trend, even among kids whose parents don’t work in tech. The concentration of web savvy users in large metropolitan areas feeds on itself, increasing the incubator effect.

I Was the Beneficiary of Living in a Large Metro Area for My Own Internet Career

I credit at least part of my entry into blogging and freelance blog writing to the fact that I was living in the Atlanta metropolitan area. As a major tech center – teeming with web savvy residents and workers – it was fertile soil for me. Not that I knew anyone doing exactly what I was doing, but I knew people who were using the web to make money. It’s easier to do that when you’re surrounded by people doing the same thing.

I’d get together with friends for coffee or for lunch, and we’d bounce ideas off each other. We may have all been going in different directions, but the basic strategies are always the same. What’s more, being around others who are web savvy gives you a chance to learn from their mistakes.

Sometimes it was even possible to run into strangers who were either making money on the web, or using the web to enhance their businesses. The people and resources were just closer at hand than I imagine they would be in less populated areas.

That’s what’s happening in the large metropolitan areas, but not in rural America.

Tapping the Internet from Rural America

Rural America has taken it on the chin from different directions. First there was the disappearance of the family farm in favor of the corporate farm. Then there was the disappearance of manufacturing jobs. That was paralleled by the big-box retailers that virtually destroyed small-town downtown areas, and the small businesses they contained. And perhaps the most unkind cut of all, young people have left rural America in droves, seeking opportunity in the cities.

The combination of events has created an extraordinary lack of economic opportunity in much of rural America. There’s an absence of jobs that pay a living wage, and provide benefits. That’s not much to go on if you live in a rural area, and want to improve your circumstances.

Again, I’m hardly an expert on survival in rural America. But it looks like the person who wants to improve his or her lot in life as one of two choices:

  1. Relocate to a large city where there are plenty of jobs, or
  2. Build a local business.

Let’s take a look at both possibilities.

Relocate to a Large City

In a large city, you’re in a place where there are plenty of jobs. But there’s also a downside – there’s a lot of competition for those jobs.

If you’re a recent college graduate in a very relevant major, your chances of landing a living wage job are considerably better. The same is true if you have some sort of technical training in an in-demand skill.

But if you don’t, coming from a rural area, you many lack skills needed to compete for urban jobs. But it’s always possible to get a low-paying job to start, then work your way up.

This is a lot harder to do than it once was. Many businesses today have “flattened out”, which is a technical way of saying they don’t offer much of a career path. As well, most jobs today are in the service sector. It’s not just that they’re entry-level jobs, but most don’t lead anywhere.

For example, you may start out as a clerk in a fast food restaurant, and hope to move up to management. But if you notice, there are about 10 clerks for every manager in a typical fast food restaurant. That means you have about a 10% chance of getting promoted.

But there’s one other major obstacle to relocating to urban areas, and that’s the cost of living.

In big urban areas, basic living expenses, like housing, utilities, insurance, and basic services like car repairs can be prohibitive. The burden of these expenses always falls harder on lower paid workers. Then there’s the cost of relocating. It may cost several thousand dollars, if you have the money to make the move at all.

Relocating to an urban area might make sense if you have urban job skills. If you don’t, it may not improve your circumstances.

“Bloom Where You’re Planted” – Build a Local Business

I admit, I have a bias here. This is what I had to do when I was 50 years old and my career melted underneath my feet. I had to start over from scratch, and virtually reinvent myself. And that’s even while I was living in a large metropolitan area.

But I think the rules are the same regardless of geography. You can do the same thing if you live in a rural area, and are unsatisfied with your economic circumstances.

I’ve stated the Internet is not helping rural America. But that doesn’t mean it can’t. It may be the best option for anyone who has been shut out by the economic trends of recent decades, including people living in rural areas. Due to the lack of others doing the same thing, the climb will undoubtedly be more difficult.

But difficult doesn’t mean impossible.

In How to Convert the Internet From a Playground to an Income Source , I laid out some strategies to use the Internet for its best purpose – making money.

The core idea in that article was this:

Think small. Before you can make a lot of money on the Internet, you first have to prove to yourself that you can make a little. We’re talking small steps here. Try selling a few things on Craigslist or on eBay. Write articles for your favorite blogs and websites. Start your own blog. See what web jobs need to be done, even if it’s a short-term gig. Offer your social media skills, graphic design skills, video creation skills or web building skills and see what comes up…Here’s the point: once you demonstrate to yourself that you can make a little bit of money on the Internet, it isn’t such a scary place anymore.”

Deciding What Business to Launch

This is probably the first, hardest step in using the Internet to make money. But usually, it’s best to start with what you already know. If you have any kind of skills at all, you may be able sell them on the web. Think of what you do, or can do, and how you might be able to monetize it with the web. Don’t dismiss this step lightly. Find other people with similar skills, who are selling them on the web – then follow their lead.

For example, if you have administrative skills, you may be able to offer your services as a virtual assistant. If you can make handcrafts, look into opening an Etsy store. Or look to sell locally produced goods, those unique to your area, on eBay.

Don’t have any skills to sell on the web? Get to know YouTube.

The basic idea is to start small. Get over any notion of taking the Internet by storm, it will more likely be a gradual process. If you can start out making a few dollars a month, you can grow over time until it becomes a solid part-time income. Given more time and effort, it can become a full-time income. Perhaps the most basic business advantage of the web is that it expands your market from your local area to the entire world.

You can combine your fledgling Internet business with any kind of job you can get locally. Or if you’re one of the few who still has a family farm, use your Internet business as part of a “farming+” strategy.

Still another strategy is to grow it to a point where it enables you to more easily afford to relocate to an area where there are more jobs.

Final Thoughts on the Internet is Not Helping Rural America

The Internet is changing the lives of millions of people. It’s unfortunate that’s been less common in rural America. But it doesn’t have to be in your own world. If you’re living in an area where there isn’t much opportunity to improve your lot in life, the Internet may still serve its purpose of being an economic equalizer.

In today’s complicated economy, it’s more important than ever to think in unconventional terms. The Internet gives us all the ability to do exactly that. But you have to jump in and make it happen. Success won’t come immediately, but it can, if you keep working at it and studying the examples of others.

If you’re living in an area with little economic opportunity, like much of rural America, have you tried making money on the Internet?

( Photo by bill.showalter )

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52 Responses to The Internet is NOT Helping Rural America

  1. Aye, that’s the problem for so many of us, isn’t it? The places with jobs/ample work opportunities tend to have high costs of living, long commutes, etc., while the cities that are more affordable tend not to have many jobs. It’s a catch-22 a lot of the time, yes?

  2. Absolutely Steve, especially in the big coastal cities. The average person living in those places can barely afford it anymore. But I do think it’ more acute for people from rural areas who want to move to the cities. The “sticker shock” factor is overwhelming. Worse, just because an area has high living costs doesn’t necessarily mean there are a lot of high paying jobs there, unless of course you have very specific in-demand skills.

    Much the way the stock market has detached from the real economy, living costs in a lot of areas have detached from local economies. A job there may pay X+ compared to a job in a rural area, but the cost of living there will be X++ or even X+++.

  3. Hello Kevin,
    I am so glad you are making this truth more obvious. Blooming where you’re planted is difficult and sometimes impossible.
    As I’ve mentioned to you, I live 30 miles from Seattle. Home of large Facebook facilities, Microsoft, Google and Amazon. There are many tech support companies flourishing.

    My small rural community is at the base of Mt. Rainier. In the woods where I live there are very expensive homes. I rent a small apartment on top of one. There are not enough wealthy neighbors to warrant any internet. I have an unreliable hot spot which has disabled my nice computer.

    I am tech savy. I do most work on my phone.Even a business license, job app, or company training is done on line. In Washington we register to vote on line.

    Due to Amazon’s recent suburban expansions even a small older apartment requires a very large deposit.

    Everything you wrote is so true. I have to believe that internet supply and demand must be affecting many country dwellers across the nation. I still intend to bloom. A bit more creativity may be required.

    You’re a truth teller. Thank you.

  4. Thanks Judy! I used to do a lot of online work at Starbucks, have you tried that? You might also try the local library, I know of one woman who did that regularly. More recently I’ve found Dunkin Donuts to be a good location. I’ve never had an internet connection problem, but I sometimes like a change of environment.

    My family and I were staying at my sister and brother-in-laws farm one Christmas, before they had moved in and there was no internet or cable. I got around that by writing articles on my computer at the farm, then running down to Starbucks to use their wifi to deliver them to clients. Of course, I got a coffee and a pastry while I was there. Then when we moved to our house in New Hampshire, and the cable and internet weren’t yet installed, I ran down to Starbucks at 6am to write and deliver an article to a client. That was on our move in day. I got the article done and delivered then quickly went to the house as the movers arrived.

    There’s a way to work around just about anything. But in rural areas a reliable internet connection, or any connection at all, may be a bigger problem than the occasional inconveniences I’ve had to work around.

  5. I have always said, when you sit at a computer you have the whole word at your finger tips. This is very true. You can look up anything about anyone or any place and it will be displayed on the screen. My dad use to say that the computer is going to ruin America and robots are going to be every kind of job you can think of. Well he was right and in some cases people have lost jobs because of it. It is a harsh reality when it hits at home. But without rural areas we wouldn’t have farms. Now i don’t think farm animals would like to live in a big city where there is no grass to eat. As for do business on the computer. I don’t feel the poor kids have been given the chance to learn what the rich kids did to make money. Or at least i didn’t. I have only known for about 3 years that you could make money on the computer. I had never been told about any of it. It wasn’t until i met one of my Facebook friends and she told about her making money on here that i found out. All of a sudden i knew what I wanted to do. There is a saying i grew up hearing. It says, “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day but teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” This is true about the computer. Teach children how to make money on the computer and he will. The only thing is that the child does whatever his parents teaches him. If theydon’t know how than the child won’t either. But you can follow and do what Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook done. He is now worth over 66 billion dollars.

  6. Hi Sheri – I think Shakespeare has been credited with that saying, and it’s a brilliant one. Our biggest hope is that those who have missed out on the cyber revolution, including and especially young people, will embrace it and learn to use it to their advantage. In a world of diminishing opportunities, the internet is looking like the best way forward.

  7. Thanks for the article, Kevin. It’s funny you should post this now. My husband, a world renowned software developer, and I are in the midst of moving our family from the city to the country. Our new house is 30 miles from the nearest Walmart, and 15 minutes from a gas station or Dollar General. There are about 3 restaurants within 40 minutes drive. We actually don’t want our kids raised in the fast paced city life. The internet is a tool we will have access to, but I don’t want that to run our lives like it does so many that I know. I haven’t been on Facebook for three years for many of the reasons that so many are getting off of it today. I want my kids to experience verbal in-person conversation, and contentment with silence and quiet. I want them to learn what it is to work with their hands, and produce. My opinion is that the internet should serve as a tool to connect the world as necessary, to make work more efficient, and rural life more connected, but never invade the sacredness of seclusion, nor hinder natural human interaction. It’s really up to us to use the internet properly, and to teach our children how to properly function without it, in a world where the cyber-self is our all. So, there are some of us out there who are educated, and do pursue the rural life. We make money online, and distribute it to our rural neighbors through our purchases within our rural community. We actually aren’t that rare anymore. Another well known developer that is a friend of my husband just moved to the country as well, and many others are wanting to follow our lead. I think things are changing for the better.

  8. Hi Kristen – You and your family are examples of what I mean in the article. The internet means geography should no longer be relevant in the ability to earn a living. I’ve heard of similar stories of others moving to rural areas and making a living on or thru the web. But we also have to hope that it spurs interest in internet economic activity among the existing rural population. Have you or your husband thought about doing local training sessions or career incubator type programs? It could be a real service in an area that probably has nothing like it, as well as giving back.

  9. That’s a good question. It seems it’s less a problem with the lack of information for the rural community, and more an issue of desire.

    I met a man selling an RV outside a tractor store. He had put the RV in the paper, and put signs on it out front of the store. He was asking a really great price. I told him that I listed my RV on RV Trader, and had a buyer from Texas (out of state) in an hour. He was amazed, but didn’t seem ready to change the way he was doing things. Most people don’t want the city infiltrating their lives. They see it as a form of oppression.

    I talked to a lady in our new town, and told her we were moving to the area. She said, “Nobody moves here. That’s why I moved here. I hope this isn’t a trend.” I don’t think she was trying to be rude, just open and honest. She’s the sweetest person you’ll ever meet. I know her pretty well now. But I can tell you, small town America doesn’t want the “crowd,” and the internet is just a form of crowd to them. I actually have no problem with that mentally. I understand it fully. Sometimes freedom necessitates seclusion. Think of it this way, I drive down the road here and see the gadsden flag, the Confederate flag, and the American flag everywhere. If these people tried that in Chicago they’d be shot most likely. Everyone needs people, but it’s the moderate seclusion that ensures their peace and freedoms.

    I don’t feel sorry for these people. They’ve learned what most of the country hasn’t. That is that adversity is part of life, and they’ve learned how to deal with it in Grace. It’s not necessary your fault, not is it anyone else’s. It’s an opportunity to become stronger. I admire that so much that I want my kids to see that first hand.

    As for internet for those in rural areas,we use mobile cellular data plans from at&t, Verizon, and project Fi. Most rural areas will have one carrier that has excellent coverage. You just have to find the right one, then locate a plan that suits your needs. Sometimes this means purchasing a grandfathered plan from the past.

  10. That’s actually a different perspective than I’ve ever heard before, but then you’re living there and in a position to know. It’s been much more common to hear or read something like “we live in a rural area and there’s no way to move ahead”. I truly hope you’re right in what you’re experiencing. It’ll mean the rural decline isn’t the problem some of us think it to be. But I’m all for expanded options, and the internet is providing that in diverse places.

  11. Hi Kevin. Very well said, Kristen. She said everything I was wanting to add here but there’s no need. As a rural person myself, we have internet at our home in the woods and at our business in town. It’s a matter of personal choice how you choose to use it, either for educational/business purposes or just for entertainment. Like anything in life, there are pros and cons, and we each decide. It’s true that jobs are more scarce in rural areas and people who choose to live this lifestyle know that they will have to drive a distance to meet their daily needs of life. But since the article is about the internet, I don’t agree that it’s not helping the rural community. I think it is, if one chooses to use it for the right purpose. There’s a lot of different branches this article can take because rural doesn’t necessarily mean cut off from society. The internet keeps rural communities connected. I think your article is talking about the internet but also the availability of tech-savvy jobs, which, most definitely, are more concentrated in the larger cities. I also think I’m rambling on and not expressing very well what I’m trying to say. So, with that, I’ll stop and just defer back to Kristen.

  12. Actually, you’re not rambling Bev. I thought I might be rambling in the article. What I’ve seen is the economic divide between rural and metropolitan grow in my lifetime, like two separate countries, and wondering how it will play out. As money, people and jobs concentrate in and around the big cities it’s as if the rural areas have largely become irrelevant. That’s certainly true politically. The politicians don’t even talk rural issues, unless it’s election time and they’re out stumping in farm country. For example, Trump carried the rural vote, but largely because he had no poor record to defend on the issue. I wonder if he’ll pull rural America in 2020? I have my doubts.

    Rural America was once the backbone of the country. But we’ve seen the erosion of the family farm, manufacturing and even small businesses. The combination is leaving people with fewer options. I think the internet could be the equalizer for all who use it as such. But once again it seems like the urbanites are dominating that as well. I hope you’re both right that the internet is very well used in the rural areas.

  13. You know, Kevin, this really has me thinking. I wonder if the divide you’re seeing isn’t a symptom of the change in values in this generation. I hate to disparage my own, but the older generations think the mellinials are aloof, placing temporary happiness, pleasure, and self love above the desire for good. If they are right, this leads to a people who run from difficulty, as opposed to embracing it, and learning from it. The fear of losing is something my generation is known for displaying hardily. We all got trophies as kids. I think you see the symptom of this. The squeaky wheel gets the oil. The more entrenched rural community, I believe, fusses less (I don’t mean that rudely to my generation), but those in rural communities have the desire to hold onto those values lost to most of the rest of society. And so, on the internet, you will hear the squeaky wheel. The few rural folks (and I know some people have the right to ask for help, God forbid I be mistaken as asking them to not speak up) who abandon the values instilled by living rural, and take their frustrations to the greater populace. Thoughts?

  14. I see what you’re saying Kristen. Many in rural areas don’t want change, and don’t see it as a problem. And it may not be – for them. But the flow of young people from rural areas to the cities says something different. There may not be enough opportunity to keep them there. But if there were – and the internet could certainly make that happen just as it has in the urban areas – then leaving rural America would be a true choice, and not a necessity.

    There’s so much potential from rural America, from individualism (the type not found in urban areas), self-reliance, and production of physical goods not being produced in the cities. Maybe those qualities would only be enhanced by the addition of internet occupations. I personally think everyone has something to offer the world, that they can earn money for, but they sell themselves short. Also, it seems that multiple careers and income sources are becoming the norm, even in urban areas. But the potential for this in rural areas is probably greater. Since the cost of living is lower, maybe 50% or less of the cost of living in urban areas, it seems more doable.

  15. If anything, rural life should see a resurgence hopefully, because work can now be done remotely in the information fields (which will upset the women that hope it’s not a trend). Cost of living is cheap, and if you have internet access you can do remote work rurally easily. I’m not talking about services and physical goods here (though etsy and friends are nice) but literally just programming. When someone pays a programmer they don’t really care where they live (rather, they shouldn’t). They care about the patterns that the other party produces.

    I hope SpaceX’s internet satellites (not geosynchrononous – much lower altitude, denser constellation, with less latency) come soon and coincident with an awareness by businesses that “butts in seats” isn’t really that important unless they’re moving physical goods that need human hands to move them. If that happens, then we can see more dispersion of people. I think this will be better for humans in general, as they will stop being coddled and actually have to do real work more frequently.

    Fingers crossed. Worst outcome would be for the city folks to disperse and bring their whining / entitlement with them though 🙂

  16. Hi Josh – What you’re describing is what I was going for in the article, that a lot of jobs can be done remotely, thanks to the internet. That should help to equalize the economic opportunities that are now missing in rural America. Maybe it will all play out as we suspect/hope, but it will take longer than we think. Maybe as Kristen said, right now there’s not a lot of interest in the concept among the locals.

  17. I agree, Kevin. Internet commerce is the only way to save rural America, but at a terrible cost. And I don’t think the older locals want to pay. Youth know the internet, and know it’s available in rural areas now, like Josh said. I think they are leaving for a different reason than internet issues or employment opportunity, however. In the city, you provide one service, and the rest you can purchase. Where we are at, there just aren’t enough people to provide all the services one needs. As a consequence, people end up having to provide their own services (gardening, farming, construction, cooking). Because the current generation is so focused on comfort (they eat out more than 50% more often than their parents), they can only be expected to flee to the cities. They could start businesses in the rural areas, or internet pursuits, but they choose the city. In order to really solve the “youth are leaving” issue, given their mentality, there would need to be more people, and, well, then it wouldn’t be rural would it? So the older generations that are staying in rural areas, are not overly interested in the internet, and the youth who could work rurally don’t have what it takes to be rural (I believe as a consequence of the heavy use of internet in their lives for human closeness, but that’s for another discussion). Where I see the future going for rural communities is first toward the small house/homestead movement. This will pull some of the self reliant youth to the rural areas. Then the rich internet gurus. This could be good for the locals, it could be bad. If that movement becomes mainstream I expect cost of land to increase significantly. But, you are right; it doesn’t really help the current rural population as much as it just changes the landscape/ cost of living goes up. I know everyone means well, but I see the internet as possibly the end of rural America as it is and has been.

    I think what Josh is saying will happen, and soon. That is through people like my family, but I’m wondering if it will be good in the long run for the people here. Yes, money is coming from the city and into the country, but at what cost? The property values are bound to rise with an increase in population, or with the demand for larger plots for individuals not working the land to benefit the community through commerce, in which case that cost of living Josh was referring to becomes moot. I do expect rural living to become a gem of the rich sometime in the foreseeable future thanks wholly to the internet, and the accessibility of rural living today. This is also why family working farms are going away, to be replaced by wealthy homesteads with internet businesses, and landowner mansions. Rural America is becoming more connected. Big farm food can reach most of the people, and Amazon ships anywhere. I hope I’m wrong, because rural America was our hope. We weren’t theirs. Now, for the current native rural community it’s more of a jump-on-board-or-drown thing.

  18. I forgot to mention, that there are quite a few rural farms around here that are selling goods online. I found one nearby, and am going to visit soon to see their operation. That’s great, and I think the natural/organic movement has helped those who do use the internet greatly.

  19. I’m seeing that as well Kristen (local farms selling online). But I have to agree on the mentality issue of the younger age groups. They’re moving in search of convenience and a lack of rural skills (which is ironic!). Time and economic conditions may reverse that, we’ll have to see. But I also think the high cost of living in the urban areas has a lot of younger people hogtied. Higher income offset by higher costs. We may see a boomerang effect as early as the next recession.

    But I agree with you, that more than anything rural America may become a bug-out for well-to-do urbanites. We have to hope most are moving to the country to blend into it, not to turn it into a rural version of urban America, complete with McMansions. Unfortunately, I’m already seeing some McMansions pop up in rural parts of New Hampshire. I suspect it’s internet entrepreneurs and stock market wealth. I hope it doesn’t spread, because these palaces they’re building are eyesores. The don’t blend with the rural countryside. It would be better if more would buy older farms and such and restore them. And maybe take on some rural/agricultural activities, to go with the internet and stock market stuff.

    I realize that a big part of what I’m talking about is an idealized version – well-to-do urbanites moving out to the country and preserving the nature of the area. That remains to be seen of course.

  20. As one who moved from a medium sized metro area to the rural area outside of a small town, I can speak to this issue.
    When I lived in Richmond, VA (the metro area) I had the choice of many lower cost bundled packages of Internet, phone, TV, etc..The speed was amazing.
    Since I moved to Bedford County, VA my Internet speed has downsized considerably and the monthly fee is heftier. I have problems with data throttling, video buffering and at the end of the payment month, it can take an hour or two to download 225MB file. Upload times are similar. I can not use certain functions run off the Cloud, like Topaz Studio and I can no longer access any of my Amazon material via Kindle or the Amazon Desktop Apps. On rainy or snowy days, we may have no service at all and I often get kicked offline on weekends. I can’t upgrade my ancient website to a more responsive one because the more responsive templates won’t load on my Internet service.
    I am very tech saavy but I can’t fix this problem. The fact is the tech and telecom companies are only interested in Ai and mobile development Cloud based development these days. Not to mention much of the rest of this country thinks of us rural folk as hicks and ‘deplorables’. They give more consideration to the people in welfare projects than to rural folks. Feds and the states and localities are not giving us any priority or even much consideration.
    And hell, I live in an area in which many people seem to think the Old Confederacy is alive and well (hence all the Confederate Battle flags being flown in these parts) so why would more sophisticated, modern folks give a damn?

  21. Hi Mary – What you’re describing is what I’ve heard many times before, and one of the reasons I wrote the article. Back in the 1930s FDR saw the need to bring electricity to rural American via the Rural Electrification Administration. I’m not a fan of big government programs, but when it comes to infrastructure, only government action can get the job done. I think we need something similar now. The internet is that important.

    I’m thinking of doing a companion article to this one for urbanites moving to the country. The cost of living in urban areas (esp on the coasts) is getting ridiculous. A lot of people with digital skills could benefit by moving to small towns and rural areas where the cost of living is much less. But it can’t happen if a vital service isn’t available.

    Another problem is health insurance. In many rural counties there’s only one health insurance company available, and some have none. That problem is at least as big. We do have structural problems with rural America, notwithstanding that some people living there are quite content. But that doesn’t mean the country should pretend it’s still Norman Rockwell’s rural America, and nothing’s wrong. Rural America deserves the same basic services as the rest of the country.

  22. Mary, we used to be RVers, and purchased a grandfathered legacy plan from Verizon, and something similar from at&t. That’s very common for RV full timers to do that. It was really expensive up front, but we have unlimited LTE home wireless service in the middle of the middle of nowhere. Those plans are going the way of the buffalo because new owners are lapsing, and in that case the companies pounce, and the plan is then eliminated. Then that’s one less plan in the system. The cost is getting higher by the day, but you can still purchase one from previous owners, but for both of ours I think it was over 700 bucks. But, for someone who uses the internet rurally for work it could be an asset. This is just a hold over until the next wave of innovation takes off. You sound like you are using satellite? Neither wired, nor satellite are great in rural areas. We went from having fiber in the city (the best) to unlimited data (only Verizon reaches our new house, but hey, that’s all we need is one), and I can’t tell too much of a difference. There are moments with mobile that you lose signal at the house, but I stream anything over it, download, and upload fine so far.

  23. Mary, be very careful if you plan to do that. There are scammers in the field, but there are also legitimate plans out there for sale. RVers are the best resource for finding one of those plans for sale.

  24. I also agree with Kristen’s latest comments. I’ve moved to a rural area from a larger city, my husband always lived here. It took a lot of adjustment on my part to learn to understand rural life. My husband has helped me to understand, but for others who move to the rural areas without an insider so to speak, adjustments might be tough. This article is about the internet, so I’ll try to stay on subject. I’ve been thinking about this discussion / article, and I think what I want to say is that the internet has reached and helped rural communities, just not to the extent it has in more urban areas, and this is just fine with the locals, as Kristen states. Many farms and smaller homesteads, businesses in this area sell their products on the internet, and some people make their living from it. The lifestyles are so different with the adults holding several part-time jobs, and they want it this way. They don’t want to be beholden to one single employer, as Kevin often mentions in his articles. As for the money coming in from wherever and the McMansions, yes, it’s happening here also, and it isn’t well received by the locals, and I can’t blame them. It destroys the landscape that so many have grown up with and worked and loved all their lives. Kristen’s first line says it all “It’s the only way to save rural America but at a terrible cost.” And it’s a cost most don’t want to pay. As a rural person now, I know I don’t want to pay. But it’s impossible to stop. Kristen, your comments are spot-on on this subject, in my opinion, and you’ve expressed them well. Let’s hope that we can find a compromise out there somewhere.

  25. Well said Bev. But I think circumstances are going to force change, just as it has in every other area of modern life. My thinking is that the high cost of living in urban areas, combined with the internet, could lead to a rennessance (sorry, I can never spell that word!) in rural America. People will eventually flee the cities with their crime and high living costs, for rural areas. But they’ll probably live at a lower level, with much lower incomes. As you’ve pointed out, a lot of rural people are working multiple jobs or running businesses on the internet, but maybe not making as much as a single urban career. I see that as the future of the country, and the rural areas, with the ability to also grow food and develop hands-on skills, may end up being a preferred location. It’s already happening in some other countries, like Japan, Spain and I think Greece. You, Mary and Kristen are examples of people who have done just that, and I think you’re representative of a lot more people.

    As I said in my response to Mary, I’m seriously thinking of doing a companion post, focusing on urbanites moving to rural areas. It seems to be a growing trend. But once again, the availability of health insurance seems to be an even bigger problem in farm country than in the cities.

    Anyone have any suggestions/recommendations for people moving from cities to rural areas? If so, I’d like to quote you in that article…

  26. One thing I’ve been reading about lately are so-called “mesh networks” that could play a key role in bringing broadband to rural areas. Wired had a good article about an engineer in Spain who did this:

    “Forget Comcast. Here’s The DIY Approach to Internet Access.
    Spanish engineer Ramon Roca got tired of waiting for telecom companies to wire his town — so he did it himself.”
    Link here: https://www.wired.com/2016/07/forget-comcast-heres-the-diy-approach-to-internet-access/

  27. Hi Steve – That would solve a multitude of sins, and put a bad internet provider or two out of business. Now if we could just apply the same solution to health insurance, people would be truly free to live wherever they want.

  28. Kevin, You hit on the other big problem: that being health services. When I moved here,my options for a Medicare supplement or Medicare advantage plan were greatly reduced. The one I have is okay but in many communities further out in the Appalachians, there might be NO provider or only one with very limited options. Many communities in far Appalachia have NO medical facilities at all. And the friendly country doctor has gone the way of the dodo.
    I know you and many people dislike big government intervention but that will be the only way to get our Byzantine, gargantuan health care monster under control and ensure ALL Americans, rural or urban,poor or rich, young or old, get adequate heath care. The people employed in the current insurance industry could port their jobs to the new system. Only some fat cat execs would suffer. Every doctor and nurse I have talked to (and that is quite a few because I have severe kidney disease) are for single payer, equitable health care. Even the hot shot transplant surgeon I met is for it and he gets paid big bucks for his work. Those caring medical professionals KNOW that the system is screwed up and inadequate and that something needs to be done and done quickly.
    And, yes, my Internet is satellite. I don’t do cable TV but with an antennae and digital TV, I get great reception on the over the air channels.
    Things are slowly changing in rural America but many people here are very afraid of change. I understand why they don’t want the McMansions (I hate those myself), but why many seem afraid of things like renewable energy and accessible Internet, I can not understand.
    I don’t know if you have been up on the new about the pipelines Dominion Energy has forced on our area, citing jobs and cheaper energy (not true–very few long term jobs will be associated with the pipelines once they are established and most of the natural gas is being shipped overseas.)but I have not met one single person, not Democrat, Republican, Independent or otherwise who is for this despoiling of mountains and water shed. Dominion Energy was blocked by Obama and some of the states involved and given the go ahead by the Trump administration. It seems that once again, no one cares about rural Americans and their preferences or even their land use rights. Eminent Domain was used to, in most views, to force gain land from the landowners. We already have a couple of pipelines going through the state, Why do we need two more? North Caroline, watch out! They are now trying to ram this thing down your throat.
    I am all for government intervention IF it benefits the citizens and tax payers. However, it seems much government intervention these days is at the behest of corporate behemoths who, after Citizens United, feel the have the right to do any damn thing they please.

  29. Hi Mary – Isn’t it interesting that we keep circling back to healthcare/insurance on most topics? I often feel like I beat that topic to death in a lot of my articles, but it really is a problem with just about anything we do. I’ve read a good bit about the lack of health coverage and providers in rural counties, enough to know it’s a real problem. It’s even a problem in urban areas, but it’s degrading more slowly and people are mostly tolerating it (the frog in the pot of boiling water syndrome). But something has to give somewhere. And also with rural internet service.

    On rural people not wanting change, I think I can appreciate that, but only to a certain degree. The world is changing fast, and it will hit rural America no matter what. But my thinking is that we need to manage the change (with comprehensive internet coverage and truly affordable health insurance), so it’ll be less disruptive. There are people in urban areas who are also change-resistant and they’re mostly being rolled over by the change. Maybe McMansions can be zoned out in rural areas. It’s not a crazy idea. Heck, when they get abandoned by their original owners, they’ll sit empty, and nobody needs that (plus they’re disgusting to look at).

    I find your disclosure of the pipeline interesting, and evidence of something I’ve been saying all along. Government will be in favor of building pipelines, fighting unnecessary wars, and legislating gender use of bathrooms, but when it comes to universal issues like health insurance or providing workable, affordable internet connections in rural areas, they’re silent. Proof they prefer meddling to progress. Meanwhile, the news talking heads spend all their air time talking about scandals and indictments, not needed policy initiatives.

    I feel like we’ve become the nation-state equivalent of the National Enquirer. We’re obsessed with the silly and trivial, while we ignore what’s serious and necessary.

  30. This topic is very interesting from many angles. I’m giving away my location, which I don’t like to do. I have lived in Buffalo NY my whole life. It is just the opposite here. Rural and suburban areas here are much more expensive than living in the city.
    There are tons of rural farms within an hour of here. These areas have many more internet options than the city.

    Verizon which is a huge provider of fiber optic internet has no city service. Spectrum ( Formerly Time Warner is our only real option here. All the money here lives outside the city. Property taxes are three times less in the city. I pay 900 per year. If you live in a rural area you can pay upwards of 7000 per year.

    There was a huge trend of fleeing the city back in the 60’s and 70’s and Buffalo was a shell for 30 years after that.
    The trend is starting to reverse here now and many are returning to the city. If you could afford to live in a more rural area you were well off.

    I just find it interesting that it is exactly the opposite here. All the jobs existed outside the city. Unless you were in Insurance or a government employee or in health care there was no reason to live in the city.

    I have traveled all over this country. I still haven’t found many cities that are as affordable as this one.

  31. Also, there are so many local farms here and 100’s of farmer’s markets that they all come into the city every weekend to sell their products. Everybody here now wants to buy local. They want to know where their meat came from. There vegetables, etc etc.
    Because of the internet here that is so good rurally, all these places have websites. Most of the local farmers do very well here.
    We have wine country, Maple syrup country and tons of land that meat and vegetables are grown here. All supported by a great internet service that is better rurally than in the city.

  32. Hi Tim – Due to stereotypes, when ever you’d say New York in the past, I assumed New York City, or a close-in suburban city. Buffalo or any of the upstate cities never entered my mind. But good on you for finding a gem location like Buffalo. I’ve read of several other rust belt cities that are also affordable, but hadn’t heard about prosperous rural areas outside. That’s a good sign, since it likely means people aren’t leaving the area, even though they are leaving the city itself.

    It sounds like you’re in a good position overall. Urban services + low costs + rural produce. I think what a lot of people miss is that the real problem is a basic cost of living that’s too high. That’s the case in most large metro areas, and particularly those on the coasts. Here in NH, I think we get the cost spillover from Boston, which is way over-priced. But once you get past housing, the cost of living is pretty manageable, even lower I’d say than in Atlanta.

    Even though I live in a city, farm products are easy to get, and locally produced seafood is all over (which my wife, son and I appreciate). But we’re stuck with one internet/cable provider in Comcast, and it can be a problem. (The trend toward limited services and even monopolies is a major reason for high costs.)

    Anyway, whether it’s rural areas or low cost cities like Buffalo, I think once people come to grips with the reality that the economy/employment situation isn’t keeping up with the cost of living, we could see a shift in population to lower cost areas. Humanity has regularly migrated from one area to another in search of better advantages. That might improve the economic fortunes of the lower cost areas, and make the high cost areas more affordable. I think that would benefit everyone.

    We can dare to dream.

  33. For sure. Buffalo has a bad image because it snows 5 months a year. This is one area I know of where there is a good blend of both

  34. New Hampshire has snow 5 months a year too, but I like living here better than I did when we lived in the Sun Belt. I often think we should look and see where the crowd is going, then head in the opposite direction. But then contrary is my natural state of existence 😉

  35. I know this is off topic but I always found it funny when people relocate just based on weather. It is more about opportunity or lack of. What is your quality of life going to be? Job wise, living wise. Where are your kids going to go to school?
    I know so many people who just up and move because it snows during the winter. Then five years later they are back.
    I have people ask me why I stay here. I can move just about anywhere. Like it is some kind of pit of hell. We have everything here. Low-cost housing, good schools, rural as well as city living. We have pro sports, professional theaters, and a huge cultural artist base here also.

    I get sick of winter like everybody else. If I do I’ll fly to Florida for a week or a few times a winter.

    That’s how I always felt about living in rural areas. If you lack opportunity there then move if you’re looking for a better one. If you’re happy there then stay. Internet or not.

    I like what Kristin said. Some of those people like it the way it is. Don’t care about upward mobility and could care less about the internet.

    I get the gist of the article though.

  36. Y’all, one point I’d like to drive home is that if people don’t want to change their lives, don’t feel sorry for them, and don’t try to change their circumstances. Chances are, you just don’t get it, and that’s okay. And, like Tim said, if you really can’t handle your circumstances change them. I don’t know anyone from the country who couldn’t move to the city if they wanted to. I mean there are hardly any homeless here in the country. They are all in the city. They go there because they can survive there, through hand outs, government assistance, whatever the case may be. If you see a dilapidated barn and a trailer don’t just assume they hate their life and are struggling. My husband’s well off parents started in a trailer in the country. We are not poor, and we lived in an RV for some time. We also lived in a huge really nice house in the city, and it was really not that great at all, so we left. Honestly, I’d rather be fixing a leaky barn in the country than dealing with the city traffic every day. But, to each his own.

    I follow a family on YouTube who travels like we did in an RV. There are so many comments where people say they feel so sorry for those kids, and how dare anyone do that to their children. Well, some kids love it. Maybe not you, or your kids, but that doesn’t mean everyone can’t handle the trials that come with constant travel. We enjoyed it for a season. From LA to San Antonio, to Orlando and Virgina, it was a blast, and our kids are better people because of it. Now we have found our forever home in rural America.

    Kevin, I guess if I had advice for those moving to rural America it would be this: Know the work/temperament it’s going to take to deal with the trials of being far from convenience, and decide if the benefits will outweigh the problems for you. Then don’t complain when you make your decision. Second, don’t expect the local residents to change for you. They are fine. You are the one who will need to adapt. It’s really, really hard to find friends in the country unless you work at it. Everyone already knows everyone else. You’re the outsider, and chances are they are leery of your intentions. They want to know if you are becoming one of them, or if you are bringing the city with you. Remember, people love to live rural because they generally hate the cities. Many are willing to sacrifice comfort to get away. They are escaping the hustle and bustle. Don’t bring it with you.

  37. Thanks, Kristen, and I’ll be sure to take that advice in writing an urban-to rural post, as I’m contemplating. There’s probably a long list of don’ts for people making that move. I might even a list a few names of commenters in that post, as I sometimes do. I learn more from all of you than I think you do from me! But that’s one of the main reasons for blogging in the first place, to be a forum of ideas, rather than a news source.

    Your advice reminds me of the The Story of the Mexican Fisherman. It’s applies here as well.

  38. It’s good information. I am one who would like to make a rural move down the road. Not sure if it will be here or somewhere else. I have lived in the city for thirty years. Every day off I get out of here and head out to the country.

  39. I don’t think you’ll be alone in making the move Tim. My sister and brother-in-law already have, and they’ve mentioned others who have done the same. Then we have some readers here who have made the move. I believe they’re all early adapters in a trend that’ll get much bigger. Life isn’t getting any cheaper or less complicated in the urban areas, and humanity will do what it’s always done, and migrate.

  40. I absolutely love that story, Kevin, thanks for sharing! I’m a rambler, so I’m going to leave you guys with a last story from my experiences :-p

    I used to work as a flight attendant. One day I was dead heading to my layover where I would be beginning a trip the next day. The man sitting next to me was a CEO, and I feel really terrible about this, but I can’t for the life of me remember what company he ran. It was one I had heard of, and I had used their services before; I do remember that. We talked for a while, and he said, “Look, you’re really smart. I have to know, why you are in this career. You could really make money if you put your mind to it.” I just told him that I worked for the days off so I could spend time with my son. I worked very few days out of the month, but had great insurance, and fine pay. It was really perfect. He told me I was selling myself short. I asked him where his kids were. He said, probably school. I said, “I spend 21 days out of every month with my baby boy. I can work hard and have 30 days off when I’m 45 or 50 if I work all the time, or I can have 21 days off now, and hear his first words, and see his first steps, and teach him my values while he’s young and impressionable.”

    So, that story really hit close to home. Thanks for the awesome discussion guys! I’m looking forward to the next post!

  41. Sorry for the late response here Kristen but you’re story was a good one. As a CEO that guy had a certain view of the world, of life and how it should be lived. He’s not alone, we all do. But as a “captain of industry” he probably has a greater sense of moral certainty about how he was living his life. I’m guessing his advice to you was well-intentioned, like he found the “better way” and wanted the world to know. But you were doing what worked best for you at the time, and that’s what was the best course for you. You were each “right” but in very different ways.

    I really do feel that we all need to do what we feel is right, while at the same time being open to ideas from different directions. Life really is a journey, not a destination. My daughter put a saying up on my desk (at my request) that says “Life isn’t about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself”. I try to never forget that.

  42. I can again echo everything that Kristen has said about moving to a rural area. Do not feel badly for people who may be living in a run-down old farmhouse. They like their life that way. There is a general surgeon and his wife, who is his nurse in his practice right down the street from me. They live on 22 acres with an old barn and two horses, and a very small, single-story, no-frills home. He’s a good friend of my husband, and if asked, he says he loves this way of life. It is his escape from a very stressful career and he finds peace driving his beat-up tractor around his property moving manure and fallen tree branches. Most of the rural folks we know prefer to let go of the consumerism and live with less, but more in long run. They have internet, cable, cell phones but there is not a dependency on them. We don’t have cell service at our house and we don’t care. We have a land line and that works for us. We have family who thinks that’s insane. It was an eye-opener for me as well, when I moved here thinking there were many people who were struggling financially. This was just not true. Appearances are deceiving. Again, if thinking of moving rurally, do your homework, have an open mind, know what is and isn’t important to you and your family, and be prepared to learn a different way of living. And be prepared to change and adapt to your new environment. As an ex-city girl, I would never want to go back.

  43. Hi Bev – Personally, I have no interest in moving to the country. Moving from a metro area of 6 million to a small city of about 110,000 is about as close as I want to get, at least at this point in life. And it’s already greatly improved the quality of our lives.

    But I do think economic factors and the relentless rise in the cost of living will motivate/force larger numbers of people to go from urban areas to rural areas. It will be a shock for most. We’re all driven by our own experiences and biases. One of the things I found moving from the North to the South was that Southerners are well aware that Northerners want to “reform them” when they move down there, even when it’s the Northerners who are the outsiders. Every area of the country has it’s own concept of how life should go. Call it Regional Imperialism. It’s certainly true in New York City, but also across the river in New Jersey. I’ve seen it in Atlanta, LA and Florida as well. It think it’s common everywhere, even when country people move to the cities.

    I think in the next post I’ll focus a lot on that angle, borrowing a lot of content from all of your comments. They’re all valuable input.

  44. I have thought about it for many years now. However, my small business that started in my basement five years ago has grown much bigger. We are no longer in the basement, lol.
    It most likely will not work in the country. I think for me the best option would probably be a a country place. Like a weekend type thing.
    I had a vacant lot next to my house that I bought and turned it into a pretty big city garden. I had a smaller one but was able to expand with the new land.

    I saw the trend many years back. My business is the main thing in life. So it most likely won’t happen.

  45. Me either, but it really sounds like you’ve already got your better place. You have urban amenities in a less expensive location. And since you’re self-employed, the job/employer irritation is off the table. I think you should just kick back and enjoy life in your very own unconventional promised land. In your case, you really have “bloomed where you were planted.” Most people can’t make that claim.

  46. This post kinda of made me think about that. I have been in my I wanna move mode, lol. I know it is the sickness of winter.
    Yes, I have been very fortunate. I always felt stupid because of my low education but if anything I am living proof you don’t need collage.

    I applaud people who can make the move for good. The thing I see though in alot of these posts is that people seem to make there money elsewhere and then live this out.
    Doctors, World renowned software developers etc etc. I’m not putting down those things. Some very smart people. However I just wonder if you were born in dirt poor rural poverty you would feel the same about rural living.

    Just a thought.

  47. I have the same question Tim. Most of the people I knew who moved from the rural areas to the cities talked about something like what you’re describing. Years ago I worked with a guy from Alabama (there are a very large number of Alabamians in the Atlanta area). He sang Alabama’s praises often. But one day I asked him, “If it’s so great there, what are you doing in Atlanta?” His response: “Oh, there are no jobs in Alabama”.

    I don’t know if that’s still true, or if it depends on where in Alabama you’re talking about (he was from a rural area), but that’s something I’ve heard before. No economic opportunity. It’s very common for younger people to make that move. So as is usually the case, I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. But either way, with the internet as a career/business, and with so many getting rich in the ever rising stock market, it’s just a question of time before more urbanites are going to look to rural America as a potential destination. If done right, and with the right expectations, it could work for a lot of people, just as it has for some of the readers here.

  48. I think you’re right Kevin about each of us being driven by our own experiences and biases. We all have different concepts of what constitues a good life based on our needs and desires. While I live rurally, and it has improved the quality of my life since leaving the suburbs of a large city, I still have all the goods and services I need for daily living within a 5-10 mile drive. That may sound like a lot to some, but it’s commonplace here. Another point is that I know we can’t grow old here on our land. It’s already too much to take care of. So, that’s something else to think about in rural life. Without younger family here to help out as we age, we both know we will be moving “closeer in” in the last stage of our life, i.e., retirement. All great comments here.

  49. You’ve tapped into something we’ve all avoided here Bev, and that’s the age factor. It’s one thing to live in the country when you’re young, healthy and strong. You’re not overly reliant on the healthcare system, long drives are easier, and you can take care of your land. But as you age, that becomes more challenging.

    Think about how older people have difficulty just managing self-care in a small suburban home, but now add a few acres of land, and greater distances to reach anything, including healthcare. At that point it seems as if the negatives of rural living start to magnify. I realize there are lots of older folks in rural areas who wouldn’t have it any other way, but watching from afar, it can’t be easy.

    In a different but related example, my mom lived in her own house alone until age 88. She insisted she was fine, even though we could all see what was happening. When she finally moved into a senior home (against her will of course), she realized how hard it was living alone at home. Sometimes you can’t see your circumstances clearly until you’re no longer in them.

  50. Kevin, Right now, in Virginia, we are experiencing on awful side effect of lack of connectivity in rural areas. In rural, mountainous Rockbridge County, a car had problems and started to overheat. The driver tried to call 911 but could not reach them because of being in a wireless dead zone. He walked down Route 56 to try to find cell service. By the time he reached an area with service a few miles down the road, his car gad caught fire and started a wildfire. To date, over 1600 acres of forest have burned. The fire has been burning since late Thursday. Thank God no one has been hurt and most property has been spared. But over a thousand acres of pristine forest have burned and many hours and dollars have been spent fighting this fire. If the area had adequate wireless coverage, the fire might not have spread or at least it would have been much smaller.

  51. Hi Mary – That reminds me of the story attributed to Ben Franklin:

    ““For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,
    For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,
    For the want of a horse the rider was lost,
    For the want of a rider the battle was lost,
    For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost,
    And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail.”

    This really has to improve. The technology is there, but it isn’t spreading the way it needs to. We need something like the rural electrification program to bring reliable internet and phone connection to the entire country. People in the rural areas deserve to have it. It’s infrastructure today, just like electricity and water purification. Any area that doesn’t have it is at a decided disadvantage. Not to mention the potential loss of life in a medical emergency where communication is weak or completely unavailable.

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