Excuse my ranting, but I am so frustrated with slow rural internet.
In fact I am getting to the point of pure outrage on most days in trying to function without reasonably fast internet as we try to run a media company from a rural farm office. The scary thing is that I am not even very remote relative to many people living in rural settings.
As people who live and work in rural areas across Canada and the United States, we are willing to live without a Starbucks on the corner (some of us have Keurigs), but it is difficult to have a substitute for slow rural internet.
If I run a speed test right now, it shows my download speed is 11.19Mbps and the upload rate is 4.33Mbps. And that’s faster than a lot of other rural connections. But if I check with someone in the city of Lethbridge, just a half hour away, their download speed is 177Mbps and they can upload at 16 Mbps. With city internet being 10 times faster (at no higher price), it’s hard to argue that rural people should stop complaining.
With the advances in digital technologies available to farmers and ranchers, we need aggressive internet speeds to use these tools or they are useless. There are articles written everyday on precision agriculture and big data allow for more informed decision-making, but based on rural internet speeds for the most of us, a calculator and pencil would be less frustrating. If you do not have the fast internet speed to utilize these tools, what is the point of even trying to offer the service?
I’m currently reading Michael Lewis’ non-fiction book, Flash Boys, in which internet speed is clearly an advantage that people capitalize on in business to enable profit. Farmers and rural businesses are not being granted this opportunity and it is hurting our industry in the long term.
Rural communities have no chance to compete in the digital world without at least competitive internet speeds. Whether at the Indy 500 this weekend or in business, speed matters.