Lack of broadband internet is one of the biggest challenges I hear about from small towns in the US. Many of you have awful connectivity, and you just want to get into the modern age!
While there’s no one magic answer that works for every town, we can apply some Idea Friendly thinking here and start by Taking Small Steps. Here are two specific steps that can help in the US.
1. Report your current actual broadband
There’s the broadband speed and coverage that local providers claim they’re offering, then there’s the actual speed and coverage. It’s a problem because providers are stretching the truth when they report to the government. The trouble is that rural America is so big and spread out, there’s no way to get accurate field reports from every place across the country. Well, there is a way now.
You can be a rural broadband field reporter with an app called “TestIT.” Search for it online, there are both Android and iOS versions.
My home internet tested below average and below FCC minimum. I’m also going to start using this app to report broadband realities in the small towns I visit, to help out.
2. Find out about all 27 USDA broadband programs
This small step is also part of Building Connections: finding out what resources are available to you.
I knew USDA had a lot of broadband programs, but I didn’t realize they had 27. They’re all profiled in a single toolkit that also includes examples and stories from towns that have managed to improve their broadband situations.
Want something easier to bookmark or Pin than that PDF? Use this link: Read more about the Toolkit at The Rural Blog
Take Small Steps
Broadband is one of those issues that can make you feel truly helpless. But there are always small steps you can take. Start with these two. Use them as a way to Gather Your Crowd, pulling in other people who want to take action. Encourage them to use the app. Go over the list of programs together. Brainstorm ways to get more people involved.
These aren’t the last steps in the process; they are the first.
No matter what big issue is frustrating you, Take Small Steps is the best way to get started.
Keep shaping the future of your town,
PS – Tomorrow is the last day for our Big Ideas Small Steps video. You’ll see how to apply the Idea Friendly, Take Small Steps method to several other big ideas, from saving a theater to building an arts scene to pursuing a microbrewery.