Bridging the Divide: Why Rural Broadband is So Important

BY Jennifer Wilkins

The internet isn’t all about Twitter and cat videos. It’s about doctors researching new techniques and coordinating records to save lives. It’s about local farmers acquiring national data on crops and supply and demand. It’s about students studying other countries and expanding their knowledge beyond the pages of a textbook. It’s about you reading interesting blog posts that catch your eye on social media.

According to the FCC, 97% of Americans in urban areas have access to high-speed fixed service. In rural areas, that number falls to 65%. During an election year, you hear a lot about the urban-rural divide. The areas we serve are geographically close to major urban areas and our customers have high expectations of service delivery. That’s why Whidbey Telecom is committed to expanding broadband infrastructure in our communities of South Whidbey and Point Roberts. We’re fortunate to live here in these amazing locales, and we want the same connectivity as Seattle, Everett or Vancouver, BC. Now we’re able to deliver even better in areas with The BiG GiG Fiber Network powered by Whidbey Telecom.

There are countless ways in which broadband access helps rural communities like ours to thrive.

Local business on a global scale

An online market greatly expands your customer base, giving you traffic that you simply wouldn’t have on Whidbey or Point Roberts. With high-speed, high-power connectivity, your business has greater access to online tools and cloud-based services. Broadband internet saves the time, money, and resources you would spend trying to drive traffic to your door.

Work where you live

By enabling telecommuting, broadband has blurred the geographical line that once stood between good employees and their dream jobs. Imagine the money you’ll save not having to drive for hours in heavy stop-and-go traffic. Not to mention the stress relief!

Higher learning

Most university programs now offer online classes. These are ideal for our local students who live hours away from the nearest four-year college campus. School districts are also employing tools such as Google Classroom to teach students how to learn and connect globally.

Access to quality healthcare

Rural clinics and hospitals can quickly connect to larger medical centers with advanced equipment and support. Patients can also view online medical records or even chat with doctors—all without a long drive into the nearest city.

Promote tourism

When you live in beautiful tourist destinations like Whidbey Island and Point Roberts, you want to make sure visitors can find your business. Without an internet connection, local businesses wouldn’t show up on a GPS or in Google search listings.

Stay in touch

Yes, many retirees settle here on Whidbey or Point Roberts to enjoy a stress-free lifestyle. We love it here, but we still want to keep in touch with loved ones. Tools such as Skype, FaceTime, and email don’t work well without a reliable internet connection.

Real-time news and communication

We love our trees and green space; however, the unfortunate side effect is that there are several places on the island where cell phones simply don’t work. You wouldn’t want to miss important news updates, such as emergency notifications and Amber Alerts. Whidbey Telecom WiFi hotspots keep you connected when in town at a restaurant or shopping.

We believe that everyone deserves reliable, sustainable, and affordable internet service. We are working diligently to expand and improve our fiber-optic network to provide you the best service possible. Call (360) 321-1122 or visit the Customer Experience Center in Freeland to see what options are available in your area.

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