Diversity & Inclusion
Events / Internet

Why the downstate tech conversation is so important to Delaware

It's about broadband access, which remains a major barrier to growth. Rob Nicholson knows that first-hand.

Rural Sussex County. (Photo by Flickr user Lee Cannon, used under a Creative Commons license)

It was a rainy afternoon when SecureNetMD’s Rob Nicholson gave me a call. The downstate tech scene champion had time to talk because his internet was down and it wasn’t the first time. Nicholson and many other downstate residents see this is as a recurring issue, an issue that keeps downstate companies from growing. It’s a barrier.
But who’s responsible for fixing this problem? That’s a tough question to answer because someone will have to foot the bill. For one, the population density upstate is much greater than the population density downstate, which means there are less users there. Less users means harder business case for big telcos.
Nicholson acknowledges that different population densities require different solutions.
“It’s a different recipe because of the low population density,” he said. “You have 250,000 people in downtown Philadelphia, you have 250,000 people in southern Delaware that are spread out by a 40-minute commute. That recipe is a lot more difficult to deliver a service and have a consistent service across the board.”
[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/d/embed?mid=1XLZjfRoULm8W2KnJs4r7wMj0s-E&hl=en_US&w=640&h=480]
So how do you convince an internet service provider to invest in a connection that won’t have many users? Who will subsidize the costs that would usually be covered by a wide user base? The federal government? The state?
“It’s easy to say yes, everyone should have internet but what is the right recipe to make this a reality?” said Nicholson. “Those are all questions that are not easily answered. I’ve seen case studies on how it’s been pulled off in different ways.”
Such issues have long kept downstate’s leading industries — agriculture and, increasingly, healthcare — from reaching their full potential. Technically-speaking, at least.
This is why it’s critical to keep the downstate tech conversation going. Nicholson is hosting TechTalk Tuesday next week at the Warrington Irrigation Research Farm.
Topics covered will include GIS mapping applications, drone usage in field monitoring and precision irrigation.
Get more info and RSVP below.

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