Updating Rural Internet Infrastructure

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Having lived in 2 counties of South Carolina, with large tracts of rural land and 10-20 minute drives to the nearest large scale grocery store, I find a common theme of lack of access to the outside world. The data and telephone infrastructure in counties like Barnwell and Aiken is deplorable, to say the least. While living in Barnwell County all of my life, the best thing available in wired, unimpeded internet was dial up. That is a speed of 56 kbps, the national average being ~54 Mbps according to SpeedTest (http://www.speedtest.net/reports/united-states/). That is just shy of being a 1000% difference in speeds. I shall soon be living in an area in Aiken County with a similar, yet slightly better, situation. According to the only wired provider in my area, I can expect to receive ~2-5 Mbps speeds.

Day to day activities in all of our lives, not just mine, seem to be getting more and more dependent on being connected and maintaining that connection. Sharing pictures with family, video chat, multimedia streaming, working, gaming, or general surfing of the internet, all require that constant connection. While most companies will tell you that "Two adults can use Netflix at the same time on 5 Mbps," they neglect to tell you that buffering will take ages, and other video service sites will reduce to substandard quality just to accommodate the data flow.

One goal that has been shared in our state and country has been that everyone has access to some form of high speed internet connection. For the most part, that has come true and most everyone has access. What they don't tell you before hand is the cost of the data. Most companies have issued a bandwidth cap coupled with outrageous prices for usage. The aforementioned 5 Mbps I can receive in my new home comes with a minuscule cap of 250 GBs per month. I consider myself a power user and have watched the Gigabytes tick by just trying to update computers or download required software. Some of these things can be anywhere from 3 MBs to 60 GBs. One or two updating sessions can add up the GBs pretty quick.

This petition isn't limited to Aiken and Barnwell counties wither, these are just the two I have experience in. This petition is for every little town down a back road or every large community that just isn't connected. 

Some of you are probably going to tell me to suck it up because I chose to live in a rural setting. That is very true and since I was a young kid I have dealt with the lack of internet to be able to live down that old dirt road, the one you always pass but never travel down. My entire goal is to just show you some of the people that choose to remain secluded but enjoy the modern amenities that seem to travel slowly in the south. Maybe, just maybe, we can show the companies that control how we connect to the people around us that it would be worth their time and money to reach out to the rural communities and "hook them up!" It benefits us all in so many ways. School aged children and school aged adults, video game junkies, binge movie watchers, that aspiring DJ, bloggers and vloggers, grandparents who want to facetime their grandchildren across the country, community developers, the list is endless and updating the current infrastructure may just show people dreams they never knew they had access to and maybe even lead to expansion!

 



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