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Broadband access is difference-maker for rural families – Tampa, Florida

Tampa, Florida 2022-05-27 13:00:10 –

Odessa, Texas-Michel Birgas was in sixth grade when the pandemic began. Now she’s graduated from junior high school, but she’s not without unpleasant memories from a distant junior high school.

“The test was just loading, loading and loading. It was in my nightmare, just as I didn’t want to see the circle right, circle!” She said. rice field.

Nightmarish loading circles can involve so many families across the country as the pandemic exposed weak links to the Internet in the American countryside. Michelle’s mom says her heart broke when she saw her daughter struggling just to attend the class.

“It was stressful, it was overwhelming, it was frustrating,” she said.

Birgas lives in the suburbs of Odessa, Texas. In the town of Boom or Bust Oil, it is one of the many spots on the map with no reliable internet access.

According to the FCC, 6% of the country’s population lacks internet access. If you narrow down to the rural community, one in four people will not be able to access it, which is 14.5 million.

“Mom, this would fail because she was crying because she couldn’t ride. For example, she can’t do this and her grades are very low,” Michelle said.

Scott Muri is the director of Ector County, where Odessa is located. When a pandemic occurred and we had to move to distance learning over the weekend, we found that 39% of our students lived in areas with poor or no internet.

“Many of our kids don’t live in the area of ​​our community. Even if they had money or had access to the internet, it simply didn’t exist,” Muri said. Said.

The percentage of students who could not log on to a remote school was so high that we had to come up with a solution. So they decided to take their shots and contacted SpaceX as part of the Starlink Internet Access Pilot Project, a multi-billion dollar company said.

“This big dad saw the kids struggling to connect with the teacher, and as a parent he understood what a simple little dish meant to them, so he started crying. “He said.

Ector County has a unique public-private partnership. But the federal dollar is slowly flowing to tackle this same issue nationwide. The $ 45 billion from the infrastructure bill is directed towards fair broadband access.

“I think we need to rate broadband as a utility. It’s not something that only certain people have. It’s not what you earn through wealth. It’s rights, privileges and opportunities. It’s for all Americans, “he said.

Next year, Michelle entered high school and was relieved that both her and her mother received reliable service. Because it helps put her in an equal competition for the rest of her education.

“Now everything is technology. Without good internet sources, we can’t keep up with everything that’s happening right now, so that it’s left in the past,” says Michelle.



Broadband access is difference-maker for rural families Source link Broadband access is difference-maker for rural families

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