Casaperalta speaks out about dial-up access
The Pittsburg Post-Gazette’s report on the continued use of dial-up Internet access quotes Rural Strategies’ Edyael Casaperalta.
Edyael told reporter Deborah M. Todd that the communications industry needs to do more to reach low-income and rural residents with affordable broadband. From the story:
[T]here is still a pervasive need for access in low-income and rural American communities and a lack of urgency to fill that need among Internet service providers, said Edyael Casaperalta, a program associate with the Whitesburg, Ky.-based Center for Rural Strategies.
She cited a 2010 Pew Internet and American Life survey that stated about half of the households in rural areas have Internet access at home. According to the FCC report, 21 percent of dial-up users said broadband services weren't available in their area and 10 percent of rural respondents had only dial-up connections, a figure much higher than the rest of the nation.
Since connecting rural communities won't pad most companies' bottom lines until long after upgrades are made, Ms. Casaperalta said there will be no rush to bring services to those citizens.
"Even with incentives and subsidies, companies still don't do it. It's not for their benefit," she said.
She rejected the notion that rural citizens aren't interested in the Internet as a dangerous stereotype that simply perpetuates the lack of digital knowledge that already exists among America's rural and poor communities.
The FCC study noted that 38 percent of respondents still using dial-up Internet cited issues of relevance (don't need faster speed, don't use the Internet very much). She said denying rural communities service for a lack of interest is unfair, particularly since few citizens realize how much more the Internet offers with high-speed service.
"We're getting blamed for not liking books when we haven't been taught to read," she said.
She emphasized that low-income and rural citizens have the most to lose if left behind in the digital revolution, noting it's no longer possible to assume one can apply for a job or check out the positions being touted by local legislators without having access to the Internet.