In the age of smart homes and watches, it’s almost unbelievable that millions of Americans still connect to the internet with dial-up. A 2015 Time article, however, revealed that 2.5 million American households still browse the web via the AOL standard of the 1990s.
Noting that the number of AOL dial-up subscriptions has remained steady the last three years, the Time article points to a 2013 Pew study that found 3% of Americans – roughly the same percentage as live out of range of 4G LTE networks – use dial-up in their homes.
As a rural internet user yourself, it’s probably not new to you that lack of attention from internet service providers has left rural internet users, in particular, uniformed of their alternatives to the first (and slowest) commercial internet service.
For the 13%* of American households that still lack access to
broadband internet, Rhoonet.com tackles the deep-rooted connectivity problems in rural areas and seeks to remedy the problem with guides, tailored for rural users, on everything from online gaming to smart hardware.
Rhoonet Managing Editor Stephen Kota worked in rural internet sales for nearly two decades before redirecting his energy and expertise into the new website. Rhoonet’s content revolves around an independent database, maintained by Kota, of rural internet service providers across the United States that offer consumers alternatives to dial-up or, worse, to no connection at all.
Rhoonet’s guides are investigative and objective. The site’s writers sift through extensive lists of the most popular mobile broadband and satellite providers to extract the most economical, legally transparent (based on how fair the service contract is), and practical service options. Basically, they read the pricing and legal fine print so you don’t have to.
In addition, Rhoonet reviews internet technology – like VoIP and smart home security – to evaluate the practicality of each of the technologies, and their providers, for rural internet users. Use Rhoonet to make informed decisions about, first, which internet technology to purchase and, second, which provider to purchase it from.
Despite the fact that the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has invested over $260 billion* in rural broadband expansion and rural outreach in the last seven years, misinformation about rural internet options persists and rural internet users often find it difficult to locate reliable, objective information from news sources.
Due to the lack of media coverage, online forums have become the most prevalent way for rural users to compare and access information about their possible internet options. Exchanges on forums are peer to peer but – since many rural users are forced to virtually become experts during the (supposedly simple) process of getting reliable internet in their homes – most exchanges are accurate.
No matter how objective a source is, the user experience of services
like mobile broadband will always vary drastically from locale to locale depending on network coverage. Rural users, then, will always find a use for forums to evaluate the connection in their community. In that tradition, Rhoonet includes a reader driven and site monitored forum.
If the FCC (and this site) have it their way, rural users will one day have comparable coverage to urban users at a comparable price. Until then, rural dwellers can find their bearings in the desolate terrain of rural internet options usingRhoonet and government sponsored sites like the National Broadband Plan (http://www.broadband.gov/ – for information about broadband expansion policy) and the National Broadband Map (http://www.broadbandmap.gov/ – for a nationwide map of broadband providers).
*Calculated using 2015 FCC standards and data