Information Access in Rural America

I’m tagging @Simba7 because he mentioned previously that he lives in rural Montana.

We are slowly evolving/improving the product and service, so it’s time to also think about how Othernet gets used and what people do for information in low-infrastructure areas. If you live in such a place–or know someone who does–how is information typically obtained? Is it still through newspapers and magazines? Is cellphone service reliable? What kind of radio stations are available?

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Hi Syed,
My parents live in a place where many of the residents do not have any reliable access to the internet, littel to no cell phone signal, no local radio station, and the town paper is about 4 pages long front and back. Some of the people access information with satellite TV, Those who can afford it get either, DSL or a direct line of site wireless service. Ham radio and GMRS radio is used in small clusters in some of the valleys in the county. Though my parents have wireless Internet and satellite TV, I am in the process of installing the Dreamcatcher at their house. They live on the top of a mountain and I would love to create a mesh network that could share the othernet in the surrounding valleys, just a thought. Once I get the Dreamcatcher up and reunning I will look into that.

Best Regards,

This entire county has really poor network infrastructure?

such places exist, yes. they are quite remote. however, the good news is the living situation is not typical for ‘rural’.
having made the transistion from urban to rural living two years ago, perhaps my characterizations may help.
there are roughly a handful (as in 5) radio stations split between AM and FM broadcast services. there is a newspaper serving the area. cellphone service is mostly reliable near the major roadways (state highways or interstates). in those areas, more than one cell carrier is available.
there are two internet providers – we are not uncivilized and backward :stuck_out_tongue:
however, one of the two providers has a quite specific and limited service area. the other serves areas where residences are and have been for many years. there are large wild tracts of land – if someone builds on it, they can expect electric service but every thing else would be a self-funded project.
many people who build in a remote location choose the thin pipe offered by 3G or (preferably) LTE service for phone and internet. satellite internet is available but not commonplace.
i think that about covers it…

I have friends on a farm in Iowa. Internet is available but unbearably slow. Cellphone coverage exists but data is useless. The local library is the information hub. People drop off magazines they get when they are done so others can read them. I think most people read newspapers online for news. They have internet caching at the library, also faster internet then folks have in surrounding area as the library is in town. Some farmers don’t have internet and rely on their phone. Many kids come to the library to work on projects and use the printer/fast internet.

yes, many people in rural areas seem to expect their cellphones to “just work” indoors without providing themselves the additional infrastructure (outdoor antenna on a tower and cell signal repeater) to make it really function. the pieces exist inexpensively but the expertise to install it is lacking.

I was trying to figure a good way to keep people interested in using the othernet web
as a “go to” place for information.

My first idea is have customized welcome or logon for users. It is sometime a “draw” to have
the screen say something like “Welcome Back, Mr Jones” here are some new ideas that you
might be interested in viewing.

Even thou I live outside of Washington, DC, I find the news feeds on Othernet quite valuable as they often precede local news.

That said, when I traveled to more remote locations in the US - - Washington and Oregon as an example which I call “dark territory”- - along the Snake and Columbia River, Othernet was the only news source. Ken

The county I live in (and many areas, probably) in Mississippi has no Internet service outside of town. AT&T pulled DSL service a few years ago, so the only Internet service is the local cable TV company, which only offers service to the areas closer to town. For the people who build in the rural areas, the only available services are wireless Internet via WiFi bridges (mostly unavailable due to terrain and not commercially available (basically only if you know someone with Internet access and have the resources). Satellite Internet is common but slow and unreliable (probably since the spot beam for this part of the country is so packed). Most have satellite TV if nothing else. The area is served by 3 newspapers, one from the town, one for the county, and the other serving several counties. Cellphone service is generally shoddy all around, and some do use cellular repeaters, but they are not common. There are many radio stations available. I live on the very edge of the city limits and what is considered “town” and have Internet access from the one available provider, but past here, it is mostly nothing.

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My two cents.
West Texas and Eastern New Mexico areas are under served by internet connectivity.
Yes the towns and cities have different levels of service, however there are hundreds of miles of NO service between these towns. I personally don’t trust newsprint or local radio stations due to the fact they are usually remotely satellite fed by large networks for general consumption. They spin the information to fit their current narrative. OtherNet seems to have a macro outlook in it’s info flow.

So to my point, Rural, low power information access is vital. Should a natural disaster (tornado in this area) it could be the only information source for days.

My opinion only, so take it with a grain of salt.

Othernet with Syed at the lead has developed a fine compliment of RSS news feeds - -

They provide diverse information from reliable sources in several different languages and summarize what is going on easily to understand. Even with all the news coverage I get in Washington, DC, the Othernet RSS feeds frequently “scoop” the radio,TV, and cable networks. Ken