If you are living in rural Kentucky, or any of the many more remote areas of the US, you are likely to struggle to get high speeds when you connect to the net.
Since the introduction of the internet, user numbers have grown dramatically. There were around 413 million internet users in 2000, but by 2005 more than 1 billion individuals were using the net. By 2016, there were more than 3.4 billion people online. China leads the way with over a billion internet users, but the US is one of the countries with the most people online.
Around 90% of US residents can access the net, but not everyone is enjoying high-speed broadband, and a significant amount of people cannot get online at all.
How many ISPs are serving rural areas such as Kentucky?
It is estimated that around 800 internet service providers are working to provide broadband in rural America. Some of these companies are actively investing in improving the infrastructure that is lacking in places such as rural Kentucky.
Fixed wireless technology is used by these ISPs, and there are other options such as satellite internet when an ISP is unavailable. Someone living in rural Kentucky can reach out to Broadlinc for instance, but not everyone is lucky enough to have a broadband ISP in their area.
And what is described as broadband, might not be anywhere near the speeds that you hope for. But, this isn’t the only problem for those living in rural USA.
What are the problems with broadband in rural America today?
Rural communities in the US often struggle to get a stable internet connection, and when they do, download speeds can be lacking, to say the least. Of course, there are other reasons why up to 12% of Americans don’t have broadband.
Low-income households may not consider broadband a priority, especially with high inflation and rising costs for fuel and food. Then there is the lack of infrastructure in remote areas which restricts ISP coverage.
Investment is clearly needed in many rural areas in the US to provide high-speed internet access. And Covid showed exactly why this shouldn’t be overlooked. During lockdowns, many people found themselves unable to communicate with vital services, or their families due to a lack of internet access.
There are more than 5 billion individuals online now, and computer basics like going online are taken for granted. Much of the world’s population doesn’t give a second thought to logging on, but not everyone is as fortunate.
Can you speed up your existing broadband?
About 78% of individuals in the states have high-speed internet access. High-speed broadband is defined as a download speed from 25 Mbps upwards. Yet, millions of people struggle to get anywhere close to this, and as you have read, a considerable amount of individuals have no access whatsoever.
It is possible to make changes for faster internet, such as trying your router in different positions in the home. You could try adding an extra router too if there are several users in your home.
Comparing ISPs and switching may be the best option though. Many rural areas have local ISPs who know the region better than bigger companies, and they may be dedicated to investing in that area too.
If this isn’t an option then limit your downloads, close unnecessary windows, and programs, and try a VPN. Sometimes a VPN can avoid certain speed restrictions, but it’s a good idea to use one for online safety anyway. And for people living in certain countries, a VPN is the answer to online censorship. However, in the US a VPN will just make your online activity that bit more secure.
Are changes happening to improve connection speed in rural America?
The US Federal government pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in 2022 just for internet expansion in rural areas. The Biden-Harris administration has noted the problems that rural communities are having, and they are providing investment to help ISPs reach remote areas.
The USDA in 2021 also announced help for Kentuckians who are struggling to access the net at reasonable speeds. A $2 million-plus investment was being made through the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program. Nine other states were also promised aid from the USDA.
Although figures differ, and changes are being made currently, millions of people in rural areas have no high-speed internet access. It is said that perhaps a quarter of the population in rural US has no way to get fast broadband.
Many people rely on the net for a lifeline to the outside world as was seen during the pandemic. Those who live in rural areas need to see investment and improvements in broadband access to help in many areas. High-speed broadband is needed for business, communications, and also just for entertainment in remote areas.