Connectivity Issues in Rural Illinois
According to the Federal Communications Commission, about 56 percent of rural Illinoisans don't have access to broadband internet. This lack of high-speed connectivity creates significant barriers to connectivity. Not only are rural residents faced with slower, more expensive internet services, but they miss out on opportunities that come with high-speed internet access. Missed opportunities include work from home positions, online education and degree opportunities and telemedicine services that could make a real difference in the physician shortage that many of Illinois' rural communities face.
"We take the lack of broadband connectivity into account when we design our Social Innovation programs for our rural service area," explains OPSP Population Science Research Specialist Emilie Lohman Irwin. "Even though so many grants are focused on creation and usage of apps, we use a back-to-basics approach in our programs because we understand the challenges of finding reliable, affordable high-speed internet service in central and southern Illinois."
And while both statewide and national lawmakers are looking into technology upgrades, a quick fix seems unlikely. Until then, access to high speed internet is another rural/urban disparity that must be considered.