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News and comments on community broadband networks, the communities deploying them and the technologies that support them. Published by Denise Frey and Al Bonnyman.

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Monday, November 03, 2003


"Broadband to the boonies"

"Can high-speed Net connections prevent the heartland from emptying out?"

"One of the most ambitious plans to jump-start American productivity comes not from a startup in Silicon Valley or a boardroom on Wall Street. Instead, it is taking root just north of a sugar beet field in Bismarck, North Dakota. It is there that Extend America will begin its drive to provide wireless high-speed Internet access to hundreds of thousands of rural people who still tap their own wells for water and may drive 60 miles to buy groceries. 'The real digital divide is no longer determined by whether you are connected to the Web, but by the speed of your connection,' says Ed Schafer, CEO and a former two-term governor of North Dakota."

Writing of the Plains States, the article notes that "nearly one in five counties in the region has consistently lost population every decade since 1950. That hollowing out appears to be accelerating – 38 percent of the counties in the Great Plains declined in population between the 1990 and 2000 U.S. Census Bureau reports. Some places have even reverted to what the Census Bureau calls 'frontier territory,' an area with no more than six inhabitants per square mile. Additionally, seven of the ten poorest counties in the U.S. are from the Great Plains, according to the Plains Humanities Alliance, a group dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of the area."

"'Kids are attracted to the bright lights of Broadway,' says Mr. Schafer. 'Unless they get that connectivity, they are out of here.'"

(Link from Dewayne Hendricks via his Dewayne-Net mailing list)


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