#3 – Expanding Thoughts


Last week I was looking into two topics:  how to better control food waste and the digital divide between people with access to technology and those with none. I am more drawn to researching about the digital divide inequalities among rural communities. So, this week I read more about the digital divide and discovered some interesting facts.

Having a slow internet speed can have access limits to health, business, and education opportunities that are already available in urban locations. Is it said that 39% of rural Americans (23 million people) lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps that the FCC defined as necessary. Wireless broadband is an alternative option to get internet access out to rural communities but it isn’t that reliable. The problem is that the FCC has since lowered the minimum required to be called “high speed internet” as a mobile speed benchmark of 10 Mbps/1 Mbps. That is roughly the same as 4G mobile coverage which most Americans already receive from major providers. So if the broadband network becomes 10 nearly all of America would be covered and the government could claim they’ve fulfilled their promise to increase rural broadband but really all they’ve done is redefine what it means to have high speed internet. Expansion is expensive but it is necessary to have equal WiFi speeds across all of America so that everyone has equal access to health, business, and educational opportunities.

There are potential resources and people that I could try and reach out to including Mac Schneider who was the creator of a Vox video about this very topic  to discuss potential options of how to achieve equal internet speeds.  I could look into the difficulties of local school districts and the access of internet speeds to do homework via google docs and other assignments.  I can interview the local Middlebury business owners’ association and how the internet speeds effect new businesses from settling in town.


Schneider, Mac. “Why 23 Million Americans Don’t Have Fast Internet.” Vox, Vox, 26 Sept. 2017, www.vox.com/videos/2017/9/26/16367798/rural-broadband-fast-internet-fcc-proposal.




4 Responses to “#3 – Expanding Thoughts

  • Great work this week, James.

    I really enjoyed reading your post! You seem very knowledgeable about your topic already, which will make it really great to see what you can achieve this year.

    I wonder if in your next post you could dig into the social implications of this issue are a bit more, as that is really what we are trying to get at here with What’s the Story. As you write, ask yourself “why is this fact important” and “how does this issue have an impact on society?”

    Will you be focusing on food waste next week and trying it out as a topic or do you think you will stick with researching the digital divide?

    Nice job, keep it up!


  • Hey, James, this is a great post!

    I would encourage you to think of the broad impact questions, like “how does this impact the world?” and “what does this say about society?” hopefully these will help you dig a little deeper. Keep up the great work!

    Great job,

  • Hi James,

    Thanks for sharing all this interesting information you’ve been learning about the digital divide. I was wondering why you were drawn to this topic over food waste? Knowing what about this issue makes it seem most pressing or interesting may help you frame your investigations.

    One of your points that struck me was your emphasis on how reliable high-speed internet is necessary to have equal access to health, business, and education opportunities. I would love to know more about what the specific health, business, and educational opportunities are most impacting people without reliable WiFi. To me, this would seem to be the root of why this is a social justice issue: What basic human right(s) are not being met as result of lack of high-speed internet for these populations? Who could speak to these impacts? I think your idea about looking into how lack of internet impacts students’ ability to do homework sounds like a valuable avenue, in this regard.

    I was also interested in knowing more about why wireless broadband isn’t reliable? What challenges exist in bringing high-speed internet to rural environments? Is it just a matter of cost? Or are there also issues of environmental preservation?

    Excited to see where your inquires lead!

    – Fallon

  • Hi James,

    I loved reading this blog post! I think that it is really interesting how your range of experience impacts your perspective, and ability to write on this subject. Last week you mentioned the divide between people who have access to technology, such as a cell phone, vs. people who aren’t as connected digitally. Are you still considering exploring this divide?

    Once again, I loved reading your work, and can’t wait to see what else you find!


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