STATE COLLEGE, Pa., May 21 (UPI) -- Pennsylvania State University researchers say proactive policies are needed to provide broadband access for rural areas across the United States.
Such broadband Internet access can significantly assist rural areas drive social and economic development and better position themselves to compete, said the researchers from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania.
Although the report focuses on Pennsylvania, the scientists said their recommendations hold true for any state with a large rural population.
"Broadband services offer a huge opportunity for rural areas with significant payback in terms of economic development and community revitalization," said Professor Amy Glasmeier, a co-author of the report. "The Internet makes possible a whole range of processes which involve more than rapid access to information and which range from joint projects by municipalities and collaborations between schools to development of new business processes."
For instance, she said with broadband Internet, rural hospitals could improve patient care by forging networks with urban hospitals to access their expertise and resources, as well as developing interactive processes such as online appointment scheduling and videoconferencing between patients and doctors.
A summary of the report is available at http://www.ruralpa.org/broadband2008.pdf.