The Great Divide: Broadband Challenges in Rural America - Rajant Corporation

The Great Divide: Broadband Challenges in Rural America

High-speed internet access is no longer a luxury. It’s a necessity.

The challenges many Americans faced during the COVID-19 pandemic showed us just how vital internet access is. Lockdowns forced us to remain inside the confines of our homes. Our bedrooms doubled as offices. Our kitchen tables became classrooms. Our dining rooms were waiting areas for doctor visits. As a result, the line between virtual experiences and the real world is now permanently blurred.

For those Americans who didn’t have broadband internet access, the pandemic almost seemed to stop the clock entirely—a dangerous situation for those who work, go to school, or need a doctor’s care.

So many of us take fast internet access for granted—yet 19 million Americans don’t have fixed or wireless broadband connections at threshold speeds. And more than 76% of that population—14.5 million people—live in rural areas, locations already geographically disadvantaged.

Rajant aligns with the great national goal to expand broadband availability in the most needed areas and with the most logical means of infrastructure. We stand ready to serve and breathe life into the ongoing conversation by proving that broadband access is deeply related to overall quality of life and that rural American communities need greater accessibility to these services.

Key Findings

  • Scoring and ranking all 50 states and the District of Columbia by the level of availability and average latency (or speed) of broadband connectivity. The bottom 10 states were Hawaii, Missouri, Kentucky, Montana, Mississippi, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Kansas, Arkansas, West Virginia, and Alaska.
  • Up until March 2020, Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation, one of the largest rural community health centers in the United States, fielded 1,500 telehealth calls. From March 2020 through September 2022, that number skyrocketed to 156,000, demonstrating broadband’s critical role in healthcare access for people in rural areas.
  • Grant money for broadband expansion has been instrumental in making high-speed internet access a reality in rural areas. To date, these grants total nearly $283 million, with funds being used to construct new fiber lines and bring high-speed internet access to tens of thousands of unserved households.
  • While fiber-optic service is fast and reliable, it’s expensive. Many rural areas may benefit from mesh network structures, which are adaptable, scalable, and cost-effective.

Making Broadband a (Rural) Reality

One of Rajant’s facilities is based in rural Morehead, Kentucky, and we’re eager to develop more products and services to help our friends and neighbors connect with ease.

We have broadband solutions for last-mile connectivity, and we proudly sponsor Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR): a regional nonprofit that advocates for the economic well-being for counties in Eastern Kentucky.

Rajant’s Rural Broadband Sales Director, Justin Warren, comments on Rajant’s commitment to bringing broadband to more rural areas—and some of the exciting projects we have on the horizon.

We currently have one deployment of our municipal Wi-Fi solution in Cynthiana, KY. I like to call it “Main Street Mesh.” Our second deployment in Harlan, KY, will be completed by the end of December. These deployments in the downtown areas of these rural communities leverage Rajant’s Kinetic MeshⓇ solutions to extend internet access to multiple municipal and government offices within the downtown area.  

Using an existing dedicated internet access (DIA) circuit at the respective county administrative courthouses as the internet backhaul, we have been able to deliver broadband speeds of over 200Mbps to multiple municipal buildings via our secure and resilient wireless network. In addition to providing broadband access to municipal offices, the installation of several BreadCrumbsⓇ on municipal assets provides a wireless layer 2 network that can be used to enable smart applications, public access Wi-Fi for community events, public safety, and more. 

We are also testing a deployment we have placed on a water tower. While this proof-of-concept demonstrating how we can extend broadband coverage within a rural community at distances of over two miles is ongoing, preliminary results have been better than expected at both line-of-sight (LOS) and near-line-of-sight (NLOS) endpoints. Our data rates exceed Federal BEAD requirements of 100Mbps (underserved communities) and 25Mbps (unserved communities).

Learn more about broadband’s impact on underserved and unserved areas in rural Appalachia by watching the video below.

Looking Ahead to a Connected Future

At Rajant, our goal is to facilitate the national conversation surrounding rural broadband access. Too many of our neighbors in Eastern Kentucky—and our friends throughout the rest of rural America—don’t have this access, and that has to change.