Broadband internet service is limited in rural areas across the United States, but a recent vote may help rural communities continue to make progress toward the availability of broadband services.
You may have heard about "net neutrality" in the news. Recently, the FCC voted to approve net neutrality regulations that identify broadband internet service as a public utility, similar to electrical and telephone services. Essentially, net neutrality, which is also known as open internet, means that your internet service provider will treat your data, and all data, equally.
Internet service providers cannot charge for exclusive so-called "fast lanes," they cannot slow down speed to competitors and cannot block access to legal content.
So what does this mean for you? It means broadband access and speed might make its way to a farm office near you.
The FCC has already has a program that aims to accelerate broadband access to 15 million Americans in rural areas, entitled the Connect America Fund. CAF supports rural internet service providers who deploy broadband networks.
A recent order as a part of that program required that these providers support broadband performance of at least 10 Mbps downstream. At that rate, the vast majority of websites that you visit will load instantly, and most of your farm office file downloads will complete in seconds.
In order for those rural internet service providers to continue to work toward building broadband networks, they need equal access to connections and net neutrality supports that.
The opinions of Jessica Michael are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or the Penton Farm Progress Group.