Editor’s note: Following is a selection of the most quotable quotes from our “Life Without Broadband” stories.
I am an educator in Mitchell County. I am also a single parent of a 15-year-old. The Internet is my only connection to the rest of the world. So much is out there for an educator and a student. …My daughter complains to me that text books, on-line tutorials and other educational tools are of little use to her. Many times we have to go to school early or find someone “in town” that has a higher connection speed. Having the ability to access the Internet at high speeds would be a dream come true.
Spruce Pine, NC
I feel like I am punished for living in a rural community. We have always wanted the same things that are available in larger cities. Many people in our county are out of work. Having the ability to obtain access to high speeds and low cost would make a big difference in the lives of not only the students and educators in this county, but also the unemployed.
Spruce Pine, NC
We are in our eighties and like to see pictures of our grandchildren as they grow. We live in an area where there is no high speed Internet and it takes forever to download one picture. I may be old and slow but in this day and age my computer doesn’t need to be.
Graham County, NC
It is amazing how the people who live in rural America are penalized by the Internet companies because it is not cost efficient for them to bring internet access at an affordable price to these areas. They make a significant profit, however, there is no social responsibilities to bring hard to reach locations into the 21st century.
I’m in Real Estate and having dial up made it so difficult to work from home. I would find myself driving to the office even when I didn’t have any appointments, which is expensive and contributes to global warming.
Black Mountain, NC
This is an economic development issue; as long as we rural residents are second class citizens of the Internet world, rural economic development dollars will be far less effective than need be, and rural education in the US will seriously lag behind the rest of the country.
I work full time and recently went back to school to earn my BA in special education. Many of the classes are now on-line. Without high-speed Internet access, I cannot successfully complete my college courses.
We are 5 miles from the local post office; we have landline phone and electricity; we have neighbors and paved roads; we have (at least to some extent) cell phone service and broadcast TV; we have good friends who live 4 miles away and have reliable DSL service. Why don’t we have reasonable broadband access?
Madison County, NC
A representative republic can hardly work if the electorate faces undue burden in making contact with the elected. Email, blogs, and websites are crucial to obtaining position information as well as being avenues for contact with the official or candidate…The Internet provides a space for geographically disparate constituencies to come together.
Buncombe County, NC
Our society and economy is now runs on broadband speed and those of us stuck in the slow lane are rapidly being left behind. Employment opportunities now require a high level of computer software and Web technology skills for even entry-level jobs. In fact, many of the fastest growing employment sectors require home based tele-computing capability. Quite literally we are suffering a slow business death because of slow Internet connections.
“The effect has been debilitating. I attempt to work with a wireless card which provides spotty coverage; I attempt to work with satellite internet which is slower than the wireless card.”
Mars Hill, NC
“We live in a very rural part of Mitchell County, a couple of miles away from the nearest paved road. Cable is unavailable to us. Wireless will not reach us here. DSL is not available here. Satellite is very unreliable and very expensive, so we don’t consider it a viable option. That leaves us with dial-up. Our connection speed averages about 28.8K because we are so far out.
My son takes on-line classes from our local community college, and a faster connection speed would be a godsend for him. I want him to succeed, but our slow connection speed is very frustrating to him.”
Mitchell County, NC
“I am the Program Manager for the True Nature Country Fair. The fair office is my kitchen table, in my house on my farm in Macon County. Dial-up is the only reliable and cost effective Internet connection available to me and it is a constant cause of wasted time and loss of efficiency in my job. Just this morning I waited nearly 45 minutes for documents from the local health department to download. When it is time to take on-line classes or do research in connection with my work or participate in an on-line conference call, I load up my computer and drive 40 minutes to the Macon County Public Library. Not only are my work hours limited by the library hours of operation, but I lose the travel time and spend those BIG dollars on gasoline.”
Macon County, NC
“We need a wireless system in Cedar Mountain because of the remoteness of the area. Currently we don’t receive a cell phone signal in our area at all. As a matter of fact you even have to travel several miles to get any type of signal for your cell phone regardless of what company your phone service is with. Opening up a wireless internet signal could help many of our elderly neighbors which comprise most of Cedar Mountain and especially our summer folks who may leave there own doctor back in their own home town.”
Cedar Mountain, NC
“I have become increasingly frustrated with the dial up service because I can wait for up to 45 minutes to receive pictures from my grand and great grandchildren.—I sometimes need to contact loved ones in the western part of the US and if the dial up is down and phone service is out I am stuck!”
Yancey County, NC
“It is unconscionable that in 2008, countless rural Americans still have virtually no access to high-speed Internet. Every opportunity to change that situation and bring the US into the 21st century with the rest of the industrialized world must be vigorously pursued.”
Madison County, NC
“Many of the people who live in this area can not afford the $60-$80 per month fee for satellite but do have low cost access to the Internet via dial-up. We need alternatives. When countries like India have low cost cellular service from $6-$10 a month and thus possible access to Internet via Broadband cards why do we in the US have to struggle to get the same options.”
Swain County, NC
“Our tailgate and farmers markets send out regular notices to our customers of availability at the markets, special promotions, etc. Because many of our customers don’t have high speed, we are very careful to limit the size of our messages. It would be great to be able to include photos of our markets and/or produce.”
Black Mountain, NC
“As with all technology, when you don’t update along with the leading edge, you get left behind. Many sites, including mail order pharmacies used by Medicare recipients, are not accessible to dial-up connections.”
Yancey County, NC
“My daughter purchased 2 webkinz while on vacation with her own money (she’s 7)- opened them and greatly enjoyed them at Grandma’s (with high speed access) only to be broken hearted at home where she cannot “feed” her pets.. She’s been anxiously waiting ATT to come through with their promises to expand to our area - she can tell you all their promised dates which have gone by the wayside.”
“I’m a software developer who moved to this area because of the fact that I can work from any where as long as there is a broadband connection to the outer world. When we bought our house we were assured that it was cable ready. I didn’t think to ask why they had a satellite on their roof if the house was wired for cable. Of course, after having purchased the house, while I was setting up the telephone, TV and internet ccounts, I learned that there is no cable connection and Charter Cable wouldn’t be able to drop a line to my house even though the nearest cable box is about 1/4 of a mile away. OK, so plan B - DSL. Well, Verizon, who services our area, doesn’t offer DSL as far out as I am. Now, it’s panic time.
People choose to live where they live for various reasons - family, jobs etc. But cost of living was one of the main benefits why my family decided to have our home in the country. We could afford a huge house with 13 acres if it’s in a rural area. But the high cost of Internet connectivity is really making it difficult for a small business like mine to succeed.”
“I am lucky because I can at least write off the equipment as a business expense. But the amount that I have spent on equipment to try to get reliable service not to mention the monthly expense $80/month for ongoing service vastly exceeds the means of the typical rural family. For me, the time I’ve spent has been even worse–hours and hours dealing with service issues and repairs that lead nowhere, and additional time researching the next best option when things went wrong.”
Buncombe County, NC
“As a mountain homeowner I am concerned about the primitive connectivity we suffer with in the rural Asheville area. I am a member of the large and active senior population commonly referred to as ‘Babyboomers.’ Like many of my neighbors and friends in the rural mountains I hope to ‘semi-retire’ to that area while maintaining an active part time role in my business. It is hard for me to function up there now, on even a temporary basis for a few days. It will be severely limiting to try to conduct that business over the existing internet access we have for even longer stretches of time. It seems to me that both our Government and Private Industry would benefit from many people like myself being able to remain actively employed and productive in our ‘Early Golden Years.’”
Buncombe County, NC
“My husband is a studio potter. His business is here at our house. He has a studio and a gallery on site and he sells retail ceramics out of his gallery. He has not put up an interactive website where other galleries that he serves can order online, because the dial-up services are too slow to handle photos and billing processes. I often work out of our house too with my job and internet access if vital for me to stay connected to colleagues and do my work. Often, I find myself having to drive up to Black Mountain to work in a coffee shop so that I can get wireless.”
Old Fort, NC
“I cannot access any video clips, pod casts, or even websites with lots of graphics due to the slow load up time. I hear there’s a thing out there called YouTube out there with a lot of neat life experiences on there but I can’t access it, so I don’t know. When I try to access these websites my computer seizes up.”
Richard and Emily Ford
I started a B & B business five years ago using dial-up. As you can imagine the life and death of this type of business is determined by a web presence. Challenged with building a website on dial-up, and then marketing such a site on dial-up and then joining multiple indexes where personal pages were built on dial-up was a very painful experience. Due to the time it took it slowed my progress down, impacted my revenues all along the way. Then when I grew enough to afford an on-line booking system I found out they were incompatible with dial-up. So, I was reduced to continuing a paper calendar with hash marks and the possibility of overbooking was always a threat. (YES, I did overbook) Finally I found one system that would take me on with satellite. That is not much better due to the sensitivities of satellite. Just writing this e-mail I was thrown off the web due to a storm in God knows what county.
I work for a company that also allows me to work from my home because I can do it with my computer, waiting for files to download at 26.6 is so frustrating I go into my work shop and work on something else until it is done. I can not work with a client over the phone because he is high speed and I’m not. I am also using a third phone line to talk while I am on the computer, and still have to switch one of them to operate the fax. I have waited for years hoping something else besides another Satellite hook up that I can afford.
Madison County, NC
I am a self-employed artist and as such the lack of high speed access keeps the e-commerce world just outside of my reaches. Also as a self employed citizen I need to research my own health care and sifting through all the information can take forever. The Phone lines outside of Bakersville North Carolina are so bad that my dialup speeds average below 21KB! These are equivalent to 1997 speeds!
My husband is retired, but I still work as a freelance nature photographer and writer. When we moved here, it was still common for me to send film-based photos to publishers worldwide via courier delivery services. In the past 6 years, this has changed to predominantly marketing my images on my website or by sending targeted emails to buyers. The only problem is that we are on dial-up internet service, and because of our chosen remote location, the only logical provider of DSL (Verizon) has no idea when they might upgrade their services to include us in the DSL service area.
I currently have to drive to the public library, a 22-mile round trip, when I need to upload or download large files related to my photo sales. With the increasing cost of gasoline, this is becoming quite burdensome.
My hospital has now allowed me to begin commuting from home two days a week because of gas prices. When I drive to work it is a 120-mile round trip. I could work from home full time on my job but due to my Internet connection I do not have the capability to access all my programs. I work on what I can at a very decreased speed then go into work the next day and work on the system I could not access at home. It saves some money and keeps me efficient but how much better if we could just get what everyone else on the planet seems to enjoy in high speed internet.
I am 82 years old, living alone, on social security and rely on my computer for a lot of things. Everything is more difficult and sometimes it is impossible to access certain things on the web I would like to. I pay all of my bills on line and sometimes have a problem with certain accounts due to the slow speed. I sometimes sell things on ebay for extra income. This is also much more cumbersome. I do not use the internet frivolously, but use it for education and research, a lot of it medical and health related. Broadband would make everything much more accessable and doable.
Cherokee County, NC