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How enhanced broadband access can benefit rural communities

(BPT) - Much like electricity in the 1930s, internet connectivity is a modern necessity that many people take for granted. However, more than 21 million people, mostly in rural areas, don't have essential access.

For instance, slow internet access makes it hard for Matt Barnard, a farmer who grows corn and soybeans in Illinois, to use the data he collects from his crops.

'We get home and we try to upload that information onto whatever platform we're using to manipulate it or share it, and it gets really, really tough,' he says. 'You might start it at night and hope that it is done in the morning and that it didn't time out.'

Farmers' families also struggle with poor internet access. Barnard's children were forced to attend school remotely during the pandemic, and his wife, who relies on Zoom to work from home, finds it difficult to telecommute to her job with a weak broadband network.

These various challenges limit opportunities for people in rural areas. Syngenta, a global agribusiness, is one of the many companies helping expand broadband access to areas across the country, helping farmers and others connect with people in their communities and around the world.

Here are a few ways robust access can help strengthen rural communities:

Allow farmers to make better decisions

Many corporations now rely on 5G and IoT capabilities to obtain more data and make better business decisions. Farmers already have the tools for smart data collection but better access to high speed internet allows them to more efficiently use those tools and put that data to work - this means farmers can better manage crop inputs, reduce their water waste and reduce pesticide use.

Expand the economy and create jobs

The internet can grant anyone access to digital consumers. And with cheap online advertising, starting a business is now easier than ever. Broadband connection can give people in rural areas more of the tools and resources they need to start businesses that generate economic activity in their communities.

Open educational opportunities

For some families in rural communities, pursuing higher education can be more challenging. Some don't have the financial means to move away from their families to attend school. Agriculture is full of technical jobs, so getting an education provides a competitive advantage.

With enhanced internet connectivity, those wishing to pursue postsecondary education can have a better opportunity to do so, especially as colleges, universities and trade schools offer more online courses.

Provide broader access to health care

Hospitals and other medical facilities that exist in rural areas are sometimes limited in their specializations and often required long drives to reach. But with expanded broadband access, medical facilities in rural communities can grant better access to these specialists via telehealth and online referrals. Patients in rural areas can also pay medical bills and schedule appointments much easier when they can do it from the comfort of their computer.

Create a more connected world for everyone

The internet is a powerful tool and has enhanced the lives of countless people around the world. It doesn't matter where you live; you should be able to have full broadband access to the internet whether you're in an urban or rural environment. And given all the benefits it can provide not just rural communities, but society, there are countless incentives for expanding access.

For more information on how Syngenta is helping expand broadband access to rural areas, head to www.syngentathrive.com


March 31, 2021
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