Broadband Internet is a necessity in today’s world. It is becoming increasingly important as more and more basic services, including healthcare and education, are migrating online. Access to high-speed broadband is standard most larger cities, but in rural America, access to broadband is limited at best, and nonexistent at worst. In order for eastern Kentucky and Central Appalachia to compete in today’s economy, high-speed broadband needs to be expanded into every pocket of the region.
That’s perhaps one of the reasons broadband expansion is the number one goal of Shaping Our Appalachian Region, which has said from its inception in 2013 that it would work to make that goal a reality. SOAR helped to usher in the public-private partnership, KentuckyWired, between Kentucky’s state government and CNX, a private information technology company.
Many organizations whose work is about building a new economy in the region, like the Center for Rural Strategies and Appalshop – whose Mines to Minds program will train former coal miners to be internet coders – are extremely supportive of expanding broadband because they know how necessary being connected in the 21st Century is to building a strong economy.
Schools and healthcare facilities will be left behind without high-speed broadband access, and building the region into a tech hub will not be possible without it. In fact, broadband expansion is so crucial now that experts have said it’s comparable to rural telephone and electricity expansion in the first half of the 20th Century.
The fact is, if Appalachia hopes to rebuild a strong economy, it will require complete access to high-speed broadband internet, and for that reason, we’ve chosen to make February 2017 all about broadband.