BEND, OR — Rural Americans don’t have adequate internet access, and a new poll shows most think Congress is to blame. According to national statistics, 39% of rural areas – the equivalent of 23-million people – don’t have access to the internet because broadband hasn’t expanded to their area.
The group Connect Americans Now polled 800 registered voters through an online survey, and found 92% believe the internet is important to daily life. Zach Cikanek says, “There might’ve been a time when folks didn’t really realize what they were missing. Today, everyone knows when they’re missing out. They know when their friends who live in suburban and urban centers have access to tools and resources that are not available in their communities; they’re aware of it, and they want to see solutions.” He also says 85% think improving wireless service would reduce the divide between urban and rural residents.
Cikanek says 69% of voters agree that those without broadband access are at a disadvantage, “There are a lot of tools and resources available to help close this digital divide. Internet service providers, especially in rural communities, have to connect communities where there might be just two to 50 households per square mile.”
Respondents also called out Congress for not doing enough. Cikanek tells KBND News 72% believe lawmakers could do more, and 66% think their Senators and Representative don’t care at all. He’s working with the CEOs for rural wireless companies to take the survey results to Washington, “It’s important that lawmakers are aware that not everyone sees that they’re making real progress on this issue, and they do want to see that happen. And they want to see it sooner, rather than later.” He says Oregon’s Congressional delegation steadfastly supports Connect Americans Now’s efforts to eliminating the digital divide.