What is One Common Use of Internet Access in Rural Areas of Developing Countries?

For many families, Internet access is essential. Whether for business, school, or entertainment, it helps us stay connected to the world.

Rural businesses use Internet access to quickly purchase inputs and make sales online, which can reduce costs. ERS research shows that counties with broadband access experience faster economic growth than comparable rural counties without.

1. Education

The Internet can promote educational and training opportunities for rural residents, especially those who cannot attend classes at a local school. It can also help them to keep up with the latest developments in agriculture and e-commerce. Moreover, it can be useful for carrying out administrative procedures online. Despite these advantages, Internet options in rural areas of developing countries have not progressed as fast as that in urban areas. The reasons for this gap are complex and may be related to a combination of factors such as orography, distance, and population density.

The likelihood of using the Internet positively correlates with education level. In fact, the highest level of Internet usage is recorded among young people.

However, the lack of Internet access in rural areas can have a negative impact on student performance in standardized tests. Students without home Internet access are less likely to be able to complete homework assignments or do research for school projects. The digital divide also strains families and communities, holding back small businesses, limiting opportunities, and preventing farmers from taking advantage of telemedicine and remote monitoring advances.

Internet access can specifically benefit women in rural areas, as it encourages them to learn about technology, which can help them to participate more fully in the economy. In addition, it can also promote gender equality, ensuring that both men and women are well-educated and have the skills they need to participate in the labor force.

In Valencia, a study has shown that Internet use increases in rural municipalities with high levels of participation in technical and higher education. In particular, there is a significant increase in the probability of having Internet access among women.

2. Health

In addition to education and information, Internet access provides health care and telemedicine services. This can be a lifesaver in rural areas where there are few medical facilities. Additionally, it can allow people to work remotely and stay connected to friends and family. This is especially important during times of crisis, such as the coronavirus pandemic.

As the Internet becomes a necessity, it is becoming even more critical for rural communities to have reliable access. Having broadband Internet can benefit economic development in rural areas by increasing household income prospects through telework, improving educational opportunities, and providing businesses with access to a larger market. Several studies have shown that rural counties with broadband Internet service have more subsequent employment and income growth than similar rural counties without it.

Although broadband is more common, some rural residents still use dial-up. Dial-up is less expensive than broadband and can be used for other purposes, such as e-government. However, there is a lack of infrastructure to support broadband in rural areas. In order to increase access to the Internet, the government must invest in telecommunications infrastructure.

We used an agglomerative hierarchical clustering (AHC) analysis of the questionnaire responses to understand each municipality’s general dynamics of Internet connection. AHC found that there are two main patterns in this regard: one related to the inland municipalities that have no internet access and the other to those with proper connections. The former pattern is influenced by the type of connection and, to some extent, by the orography that limits territorial coverage. The second is more influenced by promotional offers that are offered to Internet users. Moreover, it is possible that a lot of the rural users are served by a single provider, whereas in urban and suburban communities, there are many more options.

3. Business

Agricultural businesses are increasingly using the Internet to reduce costs and increase productivity. The Internet allows them to communicate with wholesalers and customers online, potentially reducing operating, capital, and inventory costs. Similarly, rural retail businesses can lower their operating costs by conducting business-to-business transactions online, allowing them to exploit market niches and expand their customer bases. However, rural businesses’ broadband Internet access lags behind urban areas. This is largely due to higher rural prices and slower connections but also may be the result of the difficulty of competing against firms with access to broader infrastructure and a more diverse customer base.

In addition to business, many rural communities are hoping that the Internet will help them retain and attract young people. Internet connectivity is a vital component of this effort, as young people increasingly depend on the Internet for education and communications and have higher expectations for broadband quality and speed than their parent’s generation.

Local governments in rural areas are taking different approaches to facilitating broadband Internet access. Some have developed a public-private partnership with private companies to bring high-speed Internet service to their communities. These partnerships can address a variety of challenges, including the cost and feasibility of building infrastructure in remote areas. Other strategies focus on partnering with non-private providers that are able to deploy technology more efficiently than traditional private networks. These partnerships can address the challenge of overcoming the economic disincentives to build network infrastructure in rural areas, which are often sparsely populated and located over demanding terrain. They can also help reduce the risk that investing in broadband access will fail, resulting in stranded assets and lost revenue.

4. Entertainment

Essentially, entertainment involves anything that holds an audience’s attention and provides them with pleasure and delight. This may include different forms of art, such as music and drama, or it can also involve more leisure-oriented activities, such as sports or games. Moreover, it can even include cultural activities such as ceremonies, celebrations, religious festivals, or satire. Entertainment has evolved over time to adapt to changes in culture and technology, but the basic principle remains unchanged.

The most common use of Internet access in rural areas of developing countries is for entertainment, though teleworking and e-commerce are also important uses. However, the main problem that many rural users face is finding a way to get online. Many of them rely on going online from places other than home or work, such as libraries or friends’ homes. This is due to the fact that broadband connections aren’t available in many rural areas. As a result, the vast majority of rural Internet users continue to use dial-up connections.

This is because most rural Internet service providers don’t have the funds to install broadband in their networks. Also, the quality of phone lines in many rural communities has degraded over time. Moreover, the cost of installing new phone lines in rural areas is high, and it’s difficult to find a provider who is willing to invest in the infrastructure.

Most of the time, people in rural areas have to pay more for their Internet connection than those living in urban areas. This situation is referred to as the “rural penalty.” The survey respondents indicated that promoting social initiative, i.e., creating collaborative platforms, could help overcome this problem.

5. Communication

While Internet access has exploded in recent years, it is not reaching the same penetration level in rural areas as in urban and suburban communities. As a result, people in rural areas face more challenges in getting online than their counterparts in the urban world, especially in developing countries. Fortunately, new programs in both developed and developing nations focus on these communities’ needs and address many obstacles to achieving universal internet availability.

Often, people in rural areas do not have access to the internet at home because they are unable to afford it. In other cases, their location or lack of understanding of how to use the internet prevents them from fully using it. Moreover, girls and women, in particular, are less likely to be able to use the internet because they are restricted by their parents or because of their gender. This is a significant issue since the education that young women receive through digital technologies greatly impacts poverty eradication and overall development, and it allows them to be more efficient in their work and business operations.

In rural areas, people tend to be served by a single Internet service provider because they do not have the option to switch providers. In other cases, they do not have a connection because of a combination of factors such as their low literacy or the fact that they are unable to afford it. In these situations, it is important that local authorities provide training and promote affordable solutions to ensure rural populations can access the Internet.

In some cases, the lack of internet availability in rural areas can even be a factor in their depopulation. A study by Darrell West suggests that lack of internet access can be a key reason why rural communities are at a greater risk for decline, as it can interfere with economic growth and new business opportunities.