Digital transformation has driven a massive uptick in global adoption of integrated technologies that many governments, businesses, and individuals now depend on for many day-to-day applications. This reliance on devices is set to continue as innovation develops manifold powerful solutions, placing prevalence on consistent, secure, and on-demand broadband to provide the infrastructure required to enable these technologies.
While many of us take advantage of the ability to work, learn, and shop remotely, there are still many underserved and unserved rural areas across the U.S that lack access to consistent and reliable broadband. BroadbandNow estimates that at least 42 million Americans do not have access to broadband across all 50 states, even though in its 2020 report, the FCC (News - Alert) claimed that the number of Americans without access to broadband services fell to 14.5 million.
These areas on the other side of the digital divide suffered greatly during the pandemic and are still heavily disadvantaged in modern society, lacking sufficient network infrastructure to provide the connectivity they need to benefit from many recent advancements. As digital transformation continues to build momentum these communities are being left behind unable to access the myriad of services and other opportunities that remote access would afford them due to high costs coupled with market and regulatory conditions hampering efforts to expand coverage for these areas.
However, recent technological advancements alongside newly adopted standards and business model innovations have caused a considerable change. Now with more looking toward this sizable untapped market, many businesses are determined to utilize up-to-date cloud-edge architectures to provide the large-scale implementation of new network infrastructure that will be critical for future development.
“The 4th Industrial Revolution (News - Alert) is driving the digital transformation of rural America in a way not seen since the rollout of electricity in the 1930s,” said Nancy Shemwell, COO, Trilogy Networks. “A complete transformation of how and where people choose to live, work, and play is happening right now, and technology is the enabler.”
With these infrastructures installed, communities will be able to benefit from an array of devices and solutions which can be easily integrated to improve industry efficiency and quality of life. Some use cases include:
- Access to Global Markets – enables businesses with an online presence to offer products and services in their portfolio to a newly accessible demographic while also providing e-commerce saving to consumers.
- Smart Agriculture – Connected technologies and big data can fundamentally change rural farming with sensors and enhanced data analytics providing an insurmountable improvement to the size and reliability of crop yield.
- Educational Opportunities – Among endless benefits, teachers can integrate video conferencing and streaming into their curriculum to allow students to access resources classes and digital resources remotely.
- Connects Public to Telemedicine and Healthcare – With so many IoMT devices reaching the market, an introduction of these solutions would greatly improve healthcare services allowing for patient monitoring and specialist video consultations.
- Improved Freedom of Work and Business Productivity – Remote work can provide access to a variety of jobs that were previously unavailable, enabling individuals to expand their prospective job opportunities while also reducing downtime for employees who would be able to work from anywhere.
- Increased Entrepreneurship – Rural businesses are already more resilient than urban ones with 70.6% of small businesses outlasting their counterparts that begin in large metropolitan areas by five years. With access to high-speed internet, these companies will be able to access digital economies to empower them even more
“The time is now, and the opportunity to deliver the quality-of-life improvements and generate dynamic economic value has never been greater,” Shemwell said. “We need the support of state and federal government as well as the cooperation of industry and the local communities to work together to deliver affordable and consistent access to these advanced technologies.”
As market leaders develop connectivity for underserved regions and the digital divide gradually reduces, the benefits for rural communities are numerous as they realign themselves with the rest of the country. These new capabilities will drive economic growth and innovation creating new markets and new businesses to thrive.
Arti Loftus is an experienced Information Technology specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the research, writing, and editing industry with many published articles under her belt.
Edited by Erik Linask