This week I traveled to Alturas, California to attend a County Board of Supervisors meeting with my friend and colleague, Cathy Emerson of California State University, Chico Center for Economic Development.
Cathy was addressing the Board on the issue of rural broadband. I was there to underscore the importance of broadband to rural economic development and small rural businesses.
Here’s what you can learn from Alturas and Modoc County as you pursue broadband access and work to expand internet marketing in your area.
Ask Loudly for Rural Broadband Access And You Shall Receive!
Frontier Communications, the local internet service provider (ISP), is stringing fiber all over Modoc County at their own expense! Cathy publicly thanked Frontier for these efforts.
Why, you might ask are they doing that, and what can you learn from it?
Frontier didn’t want to apply for the federal dollars, according to Cathy, because of the complex reporting requirements. She also stressed that DEMAND is driving this effort.
Frontier’s capacity is maxed. They haven’t been able to offer new DSL connections for months, and other nearby internet service providers are going to start coming into their territory if they don’t act.
Frontier enjoys its position as a rural service provider that locals can depend on, and they’re stringing fiber to prove it. Alturas and surrounding communities will see their speeds increase by three times for no extra cost, and more DSL connections will follow.
The lesson is, use the internet capacity you already have and demand more.
Get your county government, city government, chambers of commerce, business groups, rural economic development groups, schools and healthcare centers in conversations with your local ISP to show them there is demand. There is still federal rural broadband money, or your ISP might just decide, like Frontier, that going it alone will be easier and more profitable.
How can you increase demand for broadband?
You build a community of tech savvy business owners!! If every one of your rural area businesses from the local hardware store to the mom and pop restaurants and hotels have an effective website, you’re creating demand.
If your ISP is receiving daily calls from customers asking for more bandwidth, supply will be more likely to come.
If your rural area businesses are also marketing themselves through social media, directories and review sites, they will have more reason than ever to demand more bandwidth from their local ISP.
Every rural area and small town needs to get as feisty as Alturas, and every rural internet service provider needs to be as responsive as Frontier Communications.
How are you working to increase broadband availability and internet speeds in your area?
Let’s work together here! Tell your area’s story to help other rural areas learn.
Here are several posts to help your small town business learn how to approach internet marketing:
Photo by Miguel Vieira. Thanks!