Bridging the Rural Divide [7:03 am]
â€œItâ€™s not a perfect technology, but it is one of the best options for those of us in rural areas,â€ he said.
In bringing Mr. Clark and others in rural America into the fast lane, WildBlue and its chief rivals â€” Hughes Network Systems, which markets under the name HughesNet, and Spacenet, which sells the StarBand service â€” are filling one of the biggest gaps in the countryâ€™s digital infrastructure. Roughly 15 million households cannot get broadband from their phone or cable provider because the companies have been slow to expand their high-speed networks in areas where there are not enough customers to generate what they regard as an adequate profit.
[...] But alternative technologies, like wide-area wireless services and access over power lines, are still in their infancy. And demand for broadband in rural areas is as strong if not stronger than in suburbs and cities. Broadband is essential to distance-learning programs, health clinics that communicate with bigger hospitals and farmers who rely on the latest market and weather data. Second-home owners and resorts are potential customers, too.
â€œIf you donâ€™t have a broadband connection, youâ€™ll be left in a backwater and wonâ€™t be able to take part in the economy,â€ said David J. Leonard, WildBlueâ€™s chief executive. â€œThereâ€™s a growing unmet demand in these markets.â€