Even among rural residents of New York, there's a growing digital divide. Some towns in Allegany County lack cable TV, cell phone service and broadband Internet, while those with broadband literally reach the world. Economic development and survival now require broadband access along with sewer, water and electricity access. Town officials in Grover, N.Y., are forced to use slow dial-up connections or more expensive and fussy satellite coverage, while Alfred Station has broadband, a utility that allows the local bicycle business to draw customers from around the world to buy recumbent bicycles. Business for Bicycle Man is up seven-fold from the days when the business didn't have broadband, and it now deals with customers as far away as Australia.
As northeastern Allegany County loses family farms, government leaders wrestle with how to build out broadband in order to attract high-tech businesses and long-distance "super telecommuters" attracted by cheap land, a slower pace of life and other benefits of rural living. Private carriers aren't building out rural broadband because they don't believe they will recoup their investment, leaving local and regional development boards to make plans and scrape up funds for infrastructure builds.
- Buffalo News story discussing broadband challenges in rural New York
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