According to a recent Pew Research Center report, about a quarter of Americans in rural areas believe that access to high-speed internet access is a problem and in Mississippi that number rises to 36%.
“There is a lot of talk about does Mississippi have a brain drain,” C Spire spokesperson Dave Miller. ” Do the young people have the opportunities they need if they go to a community college or a 4 year institution. Are there job opportunities available at the appropriate level that they think justify staying in the state? We feel very strongly that technology offers opportunities to offer more jobs in those areas.”
Lack of high speed internet can hamper a community in a a number off ways from something as little as causing a slow gaming session to limiting a business’ ability to grow. C Spire is actively using technology to improve the quality life for rural Mississippian through a wide variety of channels.
In 2016, C Spire and TeleHealth coordinated to help people who suffer from chronic disease such as Diabetes
“what we did is we partnered with university of Mississippi medical center and we provided tablets and our network and they partnered with a technology company/ software company where they gave people in some of the most rural areas of these state these tablets to use to monitor and manage their diseases and what was amazing was they reduced their emergency room visit. It was almost reduced completely,” Miller said.
Many of the problems keeping high-speed internet from being integrated into people’s lives in rural areas is cost, mainly because of a light population density.
“When you look at providing services, whether it’s telecommunication services or Internet access, you look at (population) density,” Miller said. “In rural areas, one of the reasons people live in these rural areas is because they don’t want to be around lots of other people. Another part that is unique to Mississippi is that we have a lot of rural areas, we’re not a populous state. We don’t have a lot population clusters, outside the cities we have a lot of small towns in rural areas, people love living in the country and not being tied into a lot of things you associate with metro areas. These things make it difficult to serve the population.”
Whether you live in a rural area or a big city, the need for fast internet is there.”
In the rural areas that are throughout the state, people have to come to go into their towns to find a local library or go to the closest city for a coffee shop just to do tasks like apply for jobs.
Ole Miss seniors Allan Brooks and Delvin Davis often come to the university library to play games on their computers.
“At home the internet lags while here (at school) the quality is higher,” Brooks said. “The Library has a noticeably more stable connect.”
With students coming onto campus to play their games while other places in Oxford, C Spire is aiming to provide a stable connection in areas that haven’t ever seen it.
University of Mississippi Computer Engineer PhD Candidate, Daniel Coto said When I was an undergraduate, I would come to campus and play games with friends. The internet was better there than it was at my house. With the internet being inconsistent, it ruined the gaming experience since we couldn’t always stream a game with our friends.
C Spire is also hoping to add 5g connectivity through out the state.
“We could take some of our underlying wireless technology or 5g technology and apply it to provide internet access. So where we have cell sites that we have fibers feeding those cell sites we have the opportunity potentially to offer 5g internet.”
“Whether it’s jobs, whether it’s the economy, it’s all of these things to help move Mississippi forward,” Miller said.
The journey that is bringing Mississippi towards a future where technology is integrated into the lives of its citizens is bringing companies out of the cities and into the technology age.