Rural Area Have-nots Lose Out on the Net

Rural Area Have-nots Lose Out on the Net

“The internet revolution has created a new underclass of people in rural and remote areas who are being excluded from the brave new world of teleworking, virtual shopping and online public services by lack of access to technology.

That is the conclusion of research, to be published this week, which warns the much-hyped potential for new technologies to 'render distance obsolete' is not being realised.

The research, carried out by the Local Futures Group thinktank for IT giant IBM, calls on the government to treat access to technology as just as important as access to transport and health care. ” [at The Guardian, via LucDesk]

Although this report focuses on the U.K., it's true for the U.S., too. My aunt moved to a farm in Missouri a few years ago (not too far from Kansas City) with the hope that she could get a broadband connection and still do data entry for her old employer in Chicago. When she got settled in, she found she was on a party telephone line so she couldn't even use a dial-up account. Not that there was a local number anyway. She eventually got a private phone line, but broadband is pretty difficult to come by out there.

I wanted to highlight this other quote from the Guardian article, too:

” 'If you accept that ICT access should be part of the infrastructure then you can't leave it to the market because it will take too long and the gap will get wider.' “

This is the problem we're facing in the U.S. as the Bush administration attempts to cut funding to public programs that support community access, deregulates the broadband industry, and approves BigCo mergers in this arena. I hope the U.K. has better luck with this than we will. [The Shifted Librarian]

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