Trey Kay Published

Despite A Decade Of Promises, Fixing Our Digital Divide Is As Slow As Country Dial Up

Broadband UT socials final.jpg
Filtered photo of the landscape around the Green Bank Observatory in Pocahontas County, West Virginia.

The pandemic has taught us the value of the internet; for work, school, even to order the essentials of life. The past year has also exposed the brutal realities of the digital divide. Access to reliable, fast internet is essential for city and country dwellers. In this episode of Us & Them, we’ll hear about the internet challenges from residents of rural Pocahontas County, West Virginia. Its stunning rolling farmland is home to the Green Bank Observatory, a high tech facility that can communicate with distant planets. Despite more than a decade of federal initiatives across the country, internet service in this isolated area cannot match speed with grazing cows or is nonexistent. One customer there calls it “dependably unreliable.”

After more than 10 years of federal money and a lot of inaction, we look at why high-speed internet service hasn’t found its way into more rural West Virginia homes.

This episode of Us & Them is presented with support from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and the West Virginia Humanities Council.

Subscribe to Us & Them on Apple Podcasts, NPR One, RadioPublic, Spotify, Stitcher and beyond. You also can listen to Us & Them on WVPB Radio — tune in on the fourth Thursday of every month at 8 p.m., with an encore presentation on the following Saturday at 3 p.m.