BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.
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20 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | MARCH/APRIL 2017 RURAL BROADBAND Rural Broadband And Quality of Life To preserve what matters most to rural quality of life, it's necessary to balance digital opportunities and technological disruptions. By Frank Odasz / Lone Eagle Consulting I n 1970, when I read in the book "Future Shock" that someday anyone could have a personal computer and live and work anywhere via telecommunications, I knew instantly that was my goal. I wanted to have no bosses or employees and to live in a remote, rural location in the Rocky Mountains, where I grew up. I achieved my goal in 1998, when I founded Lone Eagle Consulting after spending 11 years on the faculty of Western Montana College (now the University of Montana Western). Nearly 20 years later, I've found out that, once online, everyone has the choice of deciding to learn any subject in the world – or not. Aggressive, self-directed, online learning can quickly make a person different from those who forgo ongoing growth in mental capacity and the insights of new knowledge. Once I got online, I was easily able to interact with others like me, in text only, and it was exciting to find a virtual community of interest that wasn't as limiting as my little town. Among other skills, I learned grant writing, but after I won funding to send free modems to 100 teachers in one-room rural schools, half the teachers sent the modems back, saying, in effect, "at's not how we do things here." ose who used the modems received free online courses, new resources and skills, and a vision for what would be the future of education. e others were left with only what their budget- strapped schools could provide. at's when I learned that, beyond gaining access to mere infrastructure, bridging the digital divide depends on first learning what broadband makes possible and then choosing to do good things with it. Without a rural culture of creativity, the digital divide will persist, even with broadband. LEARNERS INHERIT THE EARTH An aphorism that has been attributed to several great thinkers is "In times of change, learners inherit the Earth." e need for lifelong learning, the changing nature of work, and the search for stability and sustainability in a world of accelerating change all raise the same question: What will motivate rural citizens to pursue the education they need for continual change? As a rural resident, I am concerned about preserving the cherished rural lifestyle despite accelerating change and disruptive technologies. Family values, peace of mind and rural sustainability may be at risk if we do not pay attention to the changes happening around us. We must remain aware of our choices for creative adaptation. Although the digital devices that impact every aspect of life hold the promise for a sustainable digital future and new freedoms for an ideal rural