Internet, Interrupted

As several area North Carolina schools have discovered, high speed internet is hard to come by.  Fast, reliable internet access is so sparse in rural parts of the state that townspeople and schools have to fight over the few high-speed hubs in town: schools and libraries.  The alternative is slow dial-up, which often gets interrupted and is grossly unreliable. 

Rural areas of Aiken, Edgefield and Barnwell counties do not have broadband service available. Instead, residents must rely on the slower telephone dial-up connection on their home computers.

This hits schools especially hard, as students are assigned web-based projects and are required to complete online college and job applications--impossible tasks with limited internet access.  To help compensate, schools are forced to open after-school media labs.  Competition is fierce for the limited number of computers available in the labs.

At one school, Patricia Bryan, the school's career counselor, points out that most area libraries impose 30 minute limits on computer use and college and job applications can take more than 30 minutes to complete.

Not having access to broadband Internet has created a new type of discrimination in the rural parts of the county," Ms. Bryan said. She said residents shouldn't be penalized for not living in the city limits.

Rural communities are being left out of the high-speed revolution sweeping the country.  While schools and libraries are stepping in to compensate for the lack of residential broadband availability, setting up special labs and extending hourse diverts school and library resources from other critical tasks.

Libraries, Schools Help with Access to the Internet (Registration Required)