The mountains that define its beauty are part of the problem. Clare Malone writes, "Saguache (sa-WATCH) is nestled in between the Sangre de Cristo and San Juan ranges, a four-hour drive southwest of Denver. Its population of 6,300 is spread across 3,169 square miles 7,800 feet above sea level, but on land that is mostly flat, so you can almost see the full scope of two mountain ranges as you drive the county’s highways." The mountains sometimes block telecom signals and make it more expensive to lay fiber-optic cable. The size of the county, sparsity of population, and average income are also problematic. "In Saguache, internet problems are both logistical and financial; the county is three times the size of Rhode Island, while 30 percent of residents live below the poverty line," Malone reports.
|Estimated share of adults with typical internet speeds faster than dialup (FiveThirtyEight)|
Some argue that internet access is now as necessary to Americans as electricity. Could the government lend a hand in bringing broadband to rural areas, as President Franklin Roosevelt did with electricity? Then, the government provided loans to local co-ops that were already building networks; a similar model may prove promising in modern times. President Trump has proposed $200 billion in infrastructure spending, and said he would promote broadband access in rural America, but there are no concrete plans yet.