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Report: Slow Internet "Cripples" WYO Rural Economies

April 27, 2011

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - A new report about broadband access - or high speed Internet - in rural America, href="http://www.ruralstrategies.org/sites/all/files/Broadband_Investment.pdf" target="parent">"Scholars' Roundtable: The Effects of Expanding Broadband to Rural Areas", says communities without it will be economically crippled, losing out on opportunities to those with high-speed connections. According to www.SpeedMatters.org, 65 percent of communities in Wyoming have access rated below the FCC "minimum standard."

What that means for rural areas, explains report author Dr. Sharon Strover of the University of Texas at Austin, is that the simple act of ordering a part might put a business with narrow Internet bandwidth behind the eight ball.

"If you've ever tried to pull up a graphic image on a dial-up connection, you are waiting for a really long time. That means that in order to do something as simple as ordering a part, you are at just a huge disadvantage."

The report, issued by the Center for Rural Strategies, a media watchdog group, concludes that in a sink-or-swim world, communities without high-speed access will sink. Wyoming is ranked 49th in the nation for online access speeds.

Strover points to some encouraging signs, however.

"The FCC and other federal agencies are taking this far more seriously than they ever did. The money that the stimulus funding pumped into broadband should help."

The FCC is expected to report this year - as it did last year - that broadband providers are not expanding their services in a timely and satisfactory fashion.

The report is available at www.ruralstrategies.org.


Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - WY