Rural America’s needs are greater than high-quality TV
In the Sept. 24 Style article “ Prime time for bad reviews,” Hank Stuever was wrong to imply that “broadband access remains woefully scarce or substandard” for streaming of entertainment programs in significant parts of the country. In fact, the Federal Communications Commission’s most recent report on the topic shows that 98.1 percent of the country has access to Internet speeds of 10 Mbps or more — and 10 Mbps is twice the amount needed to stream a high-definition program. The percentage of Americans without broadband access is similar to that of Americans without full indoor plumbing.
While Internet speeds are generally lower in rural areas, and some very remote and very poor areas do lack high-speed Internet altogether, there’s no reason to think people living there are unusually disconnected from mainstream culture. While additional investments may be warranted in some parts of the country, most people without Internet access either live in desperately poor areas or have deliberately chosen to live off the grid.
Rural areas may well need more help with all sorts of things, but making it easier for those living outside of big cities to watch “Stranger Things” probably shouldn’t be high on the list of priorities.