A recent article from Texas Public Radio estimates there are nearly 2 million Texans who do not have access to broadband Internet. A majority of these live in rural areas, which have traditionally had less access to broadband services. This can potentially complicate efforts for some of our rural residents to participate in online courses and get certifications or degrees, as well as eCommerce or other online opportunities.
Waxing philosophical, this stirs discussion about whether broadband access is merely a commodity to purchase, or if perhaps we consider it a public good which should be available to all, regardless of location. Years ago, someone cleverly coined the “digital divide” to indicate the discrepancy between those who have access to computers and internet and those who do not have access.
How will Texas respond to accommodate those in rural areas who lack broadband internet access? Is it merely up to the individual consumers to solve this gap, using personal hot-spots via their mobile/cell service? Does the state need to step-up efforts to expand broadband coverage into under-serviced areas? Should it be a mix of both strategies? Perhaps there are other responses to consider, but until we “solve” the access issue, the number affected will likely continue to grow.