Reports from the road: "You've got to be kidding"

Design Nine has been working on broadband planning with several communities recently, and during our meetings, some interesting stories have emerged.

One businesswoman moved her business from a big city to a beautiful small town, only to discover that broadband services were limited or nonexistent. She just took it for granted when she moved that services similar to what she was able to get in her previous location would be available in the small town. When she learned they were not, she remarked, "You have got to be kidding." She now has to drive farther to work than she wanted to because she had to locate her business in an area where there was broadband available.

I met another businessman who had just moved from Boston to a small town in rural Pennsylvania. His business is entirely Web-based, and moved for the quality of life. He was able to get broadband at his home, but told me the town is otherwise badly underserved.

The lesson for rural communities: People and businesses want to live in small towns, but they have to have affordable broadband at home and in downtown and commercial areas. Communities that can market broadband availability on their economic development Web sites have a distinct advantage.

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