6 Ways Shared Fiber is Transforming Rural Communities
High speed internet can be a game-changer when it comes to running your business. If you live and work in a rural area, connectivity can also have a transformative effect on the community as a whole.
With high-speed internet, especially with the speed and reliability offered by a fiber-optic connection, rural populations can enjoy the same benefits larger markets reap with reliable access to world markets and resources – from increased economic growth to more educational opportunities to easier access to healthcare.
More specifically, high-speed internet access enables businesses in rural areas to grow their customer bases and gives farmers access to “smart agriculture” technologies that help increase yields and conserve resources.
“Shared fiber” technology, PON, or Passive Optical Network, is opening up new opportunities for connectivity in rural areas in the U.S., making reliable, high-speed internet service available to businesses and organizations at a fraction of the cost of dedicated fiber networks.
Why Shared Fiber?
Until recently, fiber-optic connectivity required a separate fiber from the internet source to each end-user, or a dedicated connection between separate locations, but PON uses a single optical fiber to support multiple users, splitting the fiber at locations closer to the end user.
As a result, PON takes significantly less infrastructure than fiber-optic dedicated internet construction, and that means lower construction and materials costs. What rural communities get is a true, end-to-end fiber-optic connection — the fastest, most reliable internet — at the lowest cost.
6 Ways Shared Fiber Can Transform Your Community
When a rural community gets access to high-speed internet, it spurs growth for the small businesses already there, encourages start-ups and can draw new industry to town. The benefits of PON or shared fiber internet extend throughout the community.
Here are six ways the introduction and adoption of high-speed internet can impact and transform your community:
- Strengthens Businesses. High-speed internet makes businesses more competitive in many ways, leading to increased profits and productivity. It opens up new sales markets and enables new technology that can improve communications with customers, co-workers and suppliers, and empower employees who work from home or in the field.
- Drives New Business. In addition to helping with business retention, high speed internet access makes your community more attractive to companies based elsewhere. Access to high-speed internet is a major factor when businesses look for a new location. Studies show broadband access leads to more businesses moving into a rural area.
- Smart Agriculture. Farmers gain access to precision agriculture and remote monitoring equipment, enabling them to better optimize irrigation, conserve resources, and increase yields.
- Improves Healthcare. With high-speed internet, a community gets the bandwidth needed for telemedicine technology, such as videoconferencing, video-on-demand, radiology and telepathology. It provides patients in rural areas access to healthcare resources and specialists, as well as to advanced monitoring services, which can save lives.
- Advances Education. Students are empowered with increased opportunities with access to high-speed internet like their counterparts in other areas of the country, specifically advancing in the areas of science and math. Also, more people can take online college courses and younger students can do schoolwork from home on snow days.
- Increases Civic Engagement. Rural areas with high-speed internet report higher levels of civic involvement. Examples include increased political involvement, such as voting, and increased civic participation in such things as sports and volunteer activities. Also, after high-speed internet access came to a community, church attendance went up.
A Community Empowered
Getting access to high-speed internet can be crucial to a community’s economic and social success. It helps retain and grow businesses, and improves the quality of life for everyone with increased opportunities for quality education and easier access to health care.
As rural businesses become more productive and thrive, so does the community's economy. And the effects can be felt beyond one community, spilling into an entire region and even state.
And then there’s the overarching benefit of high-speed internet access: a community that becomes healthier, better educated and civic-minded.
Closely related: Research Consensus: High Speed Internet Empowers Rural Renaissance