RS 1: Nebraska

Lack of Broadband in Rural Nebraska Creating a ‘Digital Divide”

I have selected an article that illustrates the digital divide in the state of Nebraska. This article was written in The Lincoln Journal Star by Chris Dunker. It is centered around two businesses and their respective owners. Dunker starts by talking about the mobile veterinary clinic belonging to Jessika Benes. She had moved from Iowa to Nebraska and expected the same internet connectivity speed. However, as stated in the article, she was “routinely getting a download speed of 3 Mbps and an upload speed of 1 Mbps” (4). Dunker states that the “molasses-slow speeds have made it difficult to manage her website” (5). He emphasizes that the lack of quality internet speed has “delayed the deployment of her telemedicine services” (5). The author is trying to state the importance of the internet to the veterinary business and how a lack of it is having a negative impact. Dunker moves on to talk about the second business, an e-commerce website that is intended on selling handmade copper mugs. Founded by Matt Dennis and Michael Stepp, the business had sales of $200,000 the past year. In an interview between Dunker and Dennis, the latter affirmed that the “business wouldn’t be possible without a high-speed broadband connection of 30 Mbps” (9). He goes on to say that “ninety percent of their business is based on our online orders” (10). Dunker contrasts these two businesses directly by asking their owners for two key points of information: their internet speed and the success of the business. Based on the comparison of the two businesses, Dunker puts forward the idea that having a fast internet connection can be substantially constructive to the business, illustrated by the copper mug business. He also asserts that having a relatively slow internet speed can be quite detrimental, as seen in Benes’s veterinary business. Dunker also interviews Senator Tom Brandt, who acknowledges the digital divide and “wishes for Nebraska to create and maintain a mapping system” (15), that indicates where high speed internet is available. The article concludes with a quote from Brandt, “We need reliable, robust connectivity in these rural areas. This is just the first step in getting us there” (29). The author includes Brandt’s statements to claim that actions are being taken to close the divide in rural Nebraska.

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