The much discussed “digital divide” between rural and urban America has been bridged for anyone who wants high-speed (broadband) Internet access. But many people are still not aware there is universal access, according to Kip Pendleton, president AgriStar Global Networks.

Speaking at a National AgriMarketing Association conference in Kansas City, Mo, Pendleton said that although there still is widespread belief that rural America is unable to get broadband Internet connectivity, that is no longer true. "Literally, 100 percent of the continental United States can get access to a broadband Internet service with download speeds as high as 1,000 kbps, and upload speeds greater than 100 kbps through high-speed, two-way satellite connectivity. Plus, it can be installed and running in as little as 10 business days" he said.

He pointed to surveys that consistently show that many people mistakenly believe there is no high-speed Internet alternative to cable or DSL. 

"Discussions regarding rural broadband availability usually begin with the premise that some type of local infrastructure is needed to deliver access to rural residents and businesses," Pendleton said.  “From an economics standpoint, investing in local broadband infrastructure for rural America is an inefficient use of capital. Satellite delivery is distance insensitive. All that's needed is a satellite dish and modem, which can be installed within two weeks."
 
The impact to Rural America from broadband access can be huge.  Pendleton shared his company's experience that Internet use increases 320 percent when new subscribers move from dial-up service to a high-speed system.