Today’s tech: launching rural businesses to new heights

February 9, 2024

Rural businesses in the U.S. are set to benefit from new technologies that will keep them connected and competitive. As workers continue to move to rural areas for a quieter and more affordable lifestyle, there is a growing need for high-speed internet connectivity. A recent study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond found that access to high-speed internet is linked to increased job growth, new business formation, and lower unemployment rates. However, while 1% of Americans in urban areas lack high-speed internet access, the number rises to 17% in rural areas and 21% for those on tribal lands. To address this, the U.S. government has allocated $65 billion to build physical infrastructure to connect rural Americans. Options for rural internet connectivity include fiber optic, fixed wireless, and satellite internet. While fiber optic is fast and reliable, it is expensive to deploy and less suitable for rural areas. Fixed wireless is rapidly growing, but customers need to be within range of a cell tower. Satellite internet remains one of the best options for connecting rural communities, with coverage available throughout the entire U.S. However, capacity constraints can sometimes slow down service. Despite these challenges, there are promising developments in technology that are bringing high-speed internet to rural businesses, enabling them to compete on a level playing field with their urban counterparts.