These Rural Entrepreneurs Rely on Accessible, Affordable Connectivity

AT&T Blog Team
November 12, 2021
Broadband Access and Affordability

These Rural Entrepreneurs Rely on Accessible, Affordable Connectivity
ShayLe Stewart

“The part of the digital divide between urban and rural America needs to be addressed. Internet access is essential and we need to continue to work to close that gap and bring more of rural America online.”  
– ShayLe Stewart, Cody, Wyoming

Every week, thousands of people tune into ShayLe’s Cattle Market News video report to hear how they can best prepare themselves for success in an ever-changing agricultural marketplace. Using digital platforms to manage their cattle herd, ShayLe and her husband rely on a reliable connection to do everything from online catalogue sales to social media interactions with potential customers across the U.S.

Families and business owners in rural areas, like ShayLe and her husband, confront unique internet access and affordability challenges. A recent study found that people in rural areas are 7% less likely than those in suburban communities, and 5% less likely than those in urban communities, to have broadband access at home. They are also less likely to own a smartphone, tablet computer, or traditional computer when compared with those in. suburban and urban areas.

Substantial work needs to be done to connect more communities in rural areas, and AT&T is pursuing opportunities to further expand our network and services to address the digital divide and invest in rural broadband infrastructure:

  • We made a $2 billion, 3-year commitment in 2021 to help address the digital divide through low-cost broadband offers, community investments, and more.
  • Our participation in the Emergency Broadband Benefit program, established by the American Rescue Plan in 2021, temporarily reduces monthly wireless or home internet bills for eligible households and residents of qualifying Tribal lands.
  • Additionally, at the end of last year we met our FCC Connect America Fund commitment with the deployment of technologies like Fixed Wireless Internet to over 1.1 million locations, primarily in rural areas.

Matthew Denetclaw

Having access to reliable broadband access is critical for rural business owners — people like Matthew Denetclaw. Matthew is a fifth-generation beef producer who was born and raised on the Navajo reservation in Shiprock, New Mexico – and rural broadband development has become essential to his work.

Matthew uses rural broadband to host virtual gatherings, and to instantly share resources and upload information for his clients and customers. In addition, Matthew works with the Intertribal Agriculture Council as a Technical Assistance Specialist, and offers his digital expertise to clients in livestock judging, auctioneering, photography, video editing, and audio engineering.

We can’t do the work of connecting communities alone.  As we scale our investments in robust broadband networks, we can do so much more when Congress and the Administration work to help solve problems alongside private partners like AT&T who can bring the technical expertise at scale to solve the digital divide once and for all.

We believe there’s nothing more powerful than connection – and this couldn’t be truer in rural, hard-to-reach communities. We’re proud of the work we’ve done to connect people like ShayLe and Matthew, and we’re looking forward to connecting even more people to brighter futures.