A new year and broadband

Ron Kern

Turning the page and onto a new year. I could gaze into my crystal ball to see what 2023 holds, but that usually leads to speculation and unfortunately I’m a realist. Seems to eliminate problems that way.

Rural residents are encouraged to verify the accuracy of the FCC’s new National Broadband Map.

The Federal Communications Commission released the National Broadband Map in November.  The new map displays specific location-level information regarding broadband services availability.

This is a huge step from where we used to be where broadband data availability was based off of census block level data. American Farm Bureau was a strong proponent of the Broadband DATA Act, which essentially led the way to this new, more granular map so that folks can see where and who is getting broadband service.

People in rural areas can verify the accuracy of the map. The public is able to view the map at broadbandmap.fcc.gov, search for their address and can see if their information about fixed and mobile services that was submitted by internet providers is actually accurate. It's pretty simple, you just take a look at the map on the website, type in your address and you can see what was reported as far as from providers.

Rural residents are encouraged to check the accuracy of the map, as the map will determine federal funding opportunities.

Benefits

Ogle County is in the process of applying for grants to expand broadband in the county. Let’s look at the benefits this creates for our agricultural community.

Farming, being rural in nature, means most farmers are typical of the rural residents who stand to benefit from improved access to high-speed internet. Growing reliance on digital/electronic transfer of data makes access to high-speed internet a necessity. More and more units of local government, businesses (including farming), education and health care providers are communicating and conducting business electronically. Farmers that are unserved or underserved with broadband are facing significant efficiency challenges when considering the benefits it offers, including:

Access to web-based only label information for the application of ag inputs.

Electronic domestic and international purchasing and marketing options.

Ability to electronically apply for and file business-related permits.

Access to government farm programs and applications through online distribution.

Receive up-to-date market and weather information.

Purchasing and ordering of farm supplies through online services.

Access to electronic systems for monitoring livestock and crops.

Access to reliable high-speed internet provides for thriving rural communities necessary for farm families and other rural residents.

Aids in attracting and retaining businesses.

Increases learning opportunities including adult education and job skill training.

Access to government services.

Increases both access to, and quality of, health care and education.

Equips first responders with necessary information.

There’s no shortage of folks out there who want better broadband service. Hopefully as the county marches on in this effort we will see the benefits.

“Good resolutions are simply checks men draw on a bank where they have no account.” -Oscar Wilde.

Kinda sounds like crypto.

Ron Kern is the manager of the Ogle County Farm Bureau.

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