COVID-19 so far has made an impact on all of our lives. Currently, as of May 4, 2020, we are at ~60,000 deaths, layoffs and furloughs continue to take their toll on the finances and mental health of millions of Americans across the country.
So what does this have to do with DSL you might ask? My family is fortunate in that we have a small farm out in the sticks of East Texas. COVID-19 has given us an opportunity forced us to spend a little more time out here rather than in Dallas. We are literally at the end of the line, the DSL line that is. There are no high-speed alternatives like cable or fiber. You can get satellite, but there are caps and it’s very expensive. My neighbors are not as fortunate and their use of streaming services, or even computers for that matter, is limited to what they can do on their phones.
There is a tremendous amount of unemployment and underemployment in this region. These people are not technology dumb, they just haven’t been as exposed to technology in the ways that people that live in the major metroplexes around the country have. My kids in Dallas have access to tablets, online learning portals, etc. This meant that when we all went into quarantine d0 to COVID-19, while tough on the parents, kids continued to learn. My neighbor out here works at one of the local schools. Parents were having to pick up ‘packets’ of schoolwork every week. There were no viable online opportunities for remote learning.
So what does all of this mean? I think companies and even people in IT are missing a tremendous opportunity. We talk a lot about rural sourcing but we never really talk about what it takes to bring that capability forward. We need to upgrade the schools, teach rural kids about technology, and for sure, high speed internet should be as available as electricity. We need to d0 for rural areas of the country what we are doing for women in STEM. We have been working on that strategy for years and it’s starting to pay off. There are a lot more women in IT than when I started for sure. Let’s enable rural areas and encourage them into the profession we all love.