How the Lack of Rural Internet Options Affects Communities | Groundwork: The Last Mile

How the Lack of Rural Internet Options Affects Communities | Groundwork: The Last Mile


– [Beth] Once you move out
of the cities, that’s it. – It’s three, four miles away and it goes off pretty quick. – I think with internet, it’s
a necessity for everybody. – I just registered our
girls for kindergarten. and they’re asking if they
can stream things for kindergarten. – Without me having
internet, I can’t do hardly as many things as they can and get as much assignments turned
in and homework done. – Though as a teacher you have identify those kids pretty quick and
we’re not talking slow service, we’re talking no service. – And if you don’t have internet out here, you won’t be able to run a farm. – Agriculture’s changing so much and it’s the get big or get out mentality and one of the things we
always talk about is internet. What provider do you have? Is there a tower coming in? – I can’t reach this page. Nope, the internet is just not working. – It’s a mile, it’s a long big mile. I was born and raised on this
farm here in Henry County. My mom and dad were
like “Since you’re here, would you be interested in
buying the farm from us?” From a very early age, we
realized you learn a lot and have a lot of fun doing it. When Beth and I got married, I wanted to make sure my kids had that opportunity. – I have a love for agriculture
and so does my brother. It teaches you hard work. I’ve raised a cow since I was little. – I’d rather live out here. It’s peaceful and it’s just
something I enjoy doing. – Our members live in
that rural part of America. The Last Mile that we
talk about in Kentucky. If you live in the county
seat, in most counties, you have pretty good service. You don’t have to go very far out of town to find when you try to access data, you just absolutely cannot pull it down. – It’s hard to run a business out here. Let alone, it’s hard to run
a business when your internet and your cell phone don’t work
as well as they do in town. – If you’re grain operator,
you’ve gotta know the market. You need to know the
news, what’s going on, and especially the weather
to manage the workers they have or the equipment
they have running. We focus on social media for
most of our advertising now. – If I choose the right time
of day, I can mobile deposit checks with my cell
phone which is very nice because our bank is about 30 minutes away. – We have a retail market on the farm. We have to be able to
conduct that business by using credit cards. – There are a lot things that
I buy for the farm online and if you get on at 9:00 at
night everybody else is on. You either have to be patient
or deal with it tomorrow. – We’ve had a priority issue
for a number of years here about getting a broadband
access to rural Kentucky. The Last Mile, in our view, is just as important as the first mile. So we’re taking that message to Frankfort. We’re taking that message to Washington. – So, the two drivers in
what makes it so difficult for us to get good rural broadband access: the geography and the lack
of population density. When you think about these companies that want to provide broadband access, it’s a lot more financially beneficial for them to go into those concentrated
population centers. The population density is
such that they can hope to get that return on investment in those population centers. In addition, they’re not having to go through trees, mountains,
rock piles, everything else that we face in our rural communities. – [Molly] Out here,
they’ve never offered that. There’s never been any company or anything to actually come out here
and advertise for wifi. – [Kylen] From a business
standpoint, they don’t want to and even the best internet here, is still, by comparison,
not what it is in town. – [Beth] We have satellite internet. It’s about $120 a month and at best, you get about 10 mb per second. – [Sen. Givens] As our number
of farmers actually in production agriculture
continue to decline and farms become bigger
and bigger and bigger, we’ll have fewer human bodies owning and caring for those acres and
that becomes a real concern. – People are going where they can to get a job and move forward. Companies are very strict
about what kind of internet you have so that you can work from home, just for security purposes,
for speed of work. – If they can’t live in today’s world, which is a highly competitive
connected society, then we get farther and farther behind. – 85% of the jobs in 2030 are jobs that don’t even exist today. Talk about a workforce training challenge that we’re gonna have and so much of that, is gonna be dependent on internet access and the knowledge that’s inherent in learning how to navigate the internet. – [Kylen] At Franklin County High School, we’re very blessed because we have what is called an one to one ratio where the school district
has brought each student in a high school level and
I believe the middle school, get a Chromebook to work with which is great in a classroom. – Kentucky led the nation and
is still leading the nation in terms of educational
access at our schools. K-12, we’ve moved to cloud computing. We have the fastest internet access speeds of any educational institutions
among the 50 states. – Textbooks have been replaced with online activities many many times. Homework assignments are
really online assignments. – If they live in town, it’s awesome, but if they live in the rural
parts of the county, it’s not. – The biggest thing right
now with high school is they’re so focused on
using the Chromebooks. So, you have your Google
Drive, your Google Classroom, you use your Google Docs, so
everything goes in your drive which basically goes into the cloud and yes, you can work on
stuff without the internet, but it doesn’t upload and so
you’re gonna lose your stuff if you’re not to where you
can upload it immediately. – I give kids time in class to do the work and all I see is them on the internet. I’m like, why don’t you
get working on projects? Like, I’m doing all my research
now that’s internet based so I can go home and do
the actually writing of it or whatever we’re doing as
far as the assignment at home because they don’t have the internet. – A lot of teachers, you tell them that you don’t have internet, and they’re like, “Stay after school.” Well, when you have farming to do, sometimes that’s not an
option to stay after school. – If my dad had to mow, weed eat, and bush hog, all this and do everything by himself, he – we’d would never have anything done. So, that’s why I always try to do my best to pitch in with anything I can. – They do a lot of work on the phone. I had kids type on the
phone and send it in. – I typed it on my phone and
sent an email through there because it was quicker to do that than actually typing it on my computer. And that was really difficult. – Our board office knows that
there’s an issue out there so kids can rent out hotspots
which is a good thing, but that’s still not the problem solver. – So, this right here is
just little Verizon hotspot. It comes off the cell towers, so see if we can, finally just loaded. It’s waiting for response again. – [Producer] What’s it doing? – It just takes forever. It’s just slowly turning it’s
little circle it’s thinking. – We’ve been fortunate that
we’ve had some federal funds recently approved to help push some of that rural broadband out. These are federal grant monies to assist these large companies in making that last mile through
that hard to connect space. That doesn’t mean it’s
happening as quick as we like. – We don’t want a student
that lives in rural Kentucky to be disadvantaged to
someone that is connected and if they are, they’re
disadvantaged for a lifetime. We want to give every
Kentuckian an opportunity. – We’ve got to push that those
telcos actually do it, not in those population pockets, but out in the rural part of the state. – Some of our legislators
have questioned the value of being able to budget as much money to this project as required. We can’t afford not to. We can’t afford to drop the ball. – My dad and granddad talked
about life before city water came down to rural
Kentucky or electricity. The next phase is internet
coming out to rural Kentucky, but the wheel moves slow. – Rural communities are gonna
continue to be challenged. We’ll see that for years to come. – We’re slowly making
progress, we really are, but we’ve got a long way to go and we’re gonna keep
attacking this problem.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *