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Internet access is essential, but scarce

AT&T is now serving parts of 15 counties with a fixed wireless internet service aimed at rural residents, The Associated Press reported.

Counties now served are Amite, Attala, Choctaw, Clarke, DeSoto, Jefferson, Kemper, Lawrence, Neshoba, Marion, Panola, Tallahatchie, Walthall, Wilkinson and Winston.

What about Lincoln County? There are places here that don’t have reliable, high-speed internet. Some rural residents must rely on satellite internet access or use a “hot-spot” from some cellular carriers to get internet. Neither is a good option.

Most of us take high-speed internet for granted. We use it to shop, get our news, communicate with friends and family, stay connected on Facebook, or just explore parts of the world beyond our reach.

But it’s a luxury in some parts of Lincoln County that many can’t afford. Depending on where you live, there may not be reliable internet service offered at any price.

Cell carriers and satellite companies may offer internet service here, but it typically comes with unrealistic caps on data or the service isn’t reliable or it’s too expensive.

High-speed internet is not just a quality of life concern. It is essential for education these days.

“If you can give high-speed internet service to every child in a rural county of Mississippi, you’re able to connect them to every bit of research they could need,” Brandon Presley, chairman for the Mississippi Public Service Commission, said. “I’ve talked to many parents whose schools have gone to electronic textbooks, and you’ve got to have an internet connection to make those work properly or to get the most out of that experience.”

“Rural Mississippi is suffering without high-speed internet service. It’s the electricity of the 21st century,” he told a group in Oktibbeha County recently. “To say that people don’t need it is like to say, when electricity came through, ‘well, why do you need electricity if you got candles?’”

Presley is right. Hopefully Lincoln County will soon join the 21st century when it comes to internet access.