RS 1: Georgia

Rural Fulton County Offers Glimpse of Georgia’s Digital Divide

Though the internet grows as an increasingly essential part of life, there are still places around America that lack the necessary infrastructure to put its citizens ahead of the divide. According to Tasnim Shamma in his article, “Rural Fulton County Offers Glimpse of Georgia’s Digital Divide”, almost “60 percent of the residents” in Fulton County, Georgia are deprived of access to consistent internet (1). Just like the highway splitting the poor and the rich in Austin, there exists a clear cut difference in the county itself where those “on the right… can order gigabit service” at upscale homes and businesses, while those on the left side of the road have no options whatsoever, says resident and start-up founder Tim Cailloux (5). Another resident, Tom Swanston, goes on to mention that internet service is like electricity and it’s “not an option anymore to not have [it]” (8). He uses the internet for his work, checking emails, his website, and after his wife came into some recent medical complications, he also uses it to stay updated with his doctor. Tim Cailloux founded Southern Internet specifically for people like Swanston and his neighbors, so they can shop online or stay updated on health care, both a long distance away from them. If governments in towns like this fail to provide their population with internet, the region “[will dwindle] and may not be able to recover”, according to Christopher Mitchell (17). Mitchell says that smaller internet companies are actually doing more than larger companies to help the people out due to the issue of local pride, but the real challenge that remains is creating a large infrastructure, which will require subsidies. However, the town has been starting to make changes. It has just introduced a bill that will make it easier for companies to install the latest generation cell phone towers, and members of Georgia Senate, such as Rep. Gooch have also tried sponsoring a bill that will allow electric member co-ops to start having internet as an option. Gooch believes in these EMCs’ potential since he reasons they’re “there to provide a service” rather than just profit (22). However, Gooch also mentions that in order for places like Fulton County to increase internet access, “we’re going to have to put money behind as well” (25). Due to these circumstances, though bridging the digital divide is a top priority, it will still most likely be a few years away for this area.

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