A new survey by the Iowa Utilities Board shows the so-called digital divide between rural and urban communities has gone from the Grand Canyon to a thin line. Utilities Board spokesman Rob Hillesland says getting high-speed internet access is a lot easier now, no matter where you live.He says rural areas now have 68-percent accessability to some sort of high-speed Internet access — the same percentage as those who live in the more heavily populated urban areas. Hillesland says rural Iowa has caught up with it’s urban counterpart in the speed of a mouse click since the first survey three years ago. He says the original survey found 28-percent of the rural communites had high speed access compared to 42-percent of urban communities. Hillesland says “high-speed” is defined as Internet service that can change pages on websites as fast as you can turn the pages of a book. He says providers have driven the increase in rural service. He says it’s the nature of competition that has pushed companies to seek out the rural areas as the urban areas became more saturated. Hillesland says the cost of supplying rural areas can be more than what it costs to serve urban areas. He says it can depend on the technology used by companies. Hillesland says the ultimate goal would be 100 percent access for all of the state. He says the board doesn’t have any requirement for the service, as they do the surveys to provide information to the legislature. Hillesland says the legislature might take action if they thought the state was moving ahead to slowing in providing access, but he says Iowa’s done better than many other states thus far. The entire study of high-speed access is available by surfing to: www.state.ia.us/iub.
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