The Rural User's Experience with Broadband Technology in Six Economic Sectors: A Phenomenological Approach

Open Access
Espada, Ivonne Melissa
Graduate Program:
Community and Economic Development
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
April 17, 2008
Committee Members:
  • Theodore Roberts Alter, Thesis Advisor
  • digital divide
  • rural strategic planning
  • rural economic development
  • rural community development
  • advanced communication technology
  • information and communication technology
  • Internet
  • business-class broadband
  • net neutrality
  • telecommunications policy
The Internet is a remarkable social instrument. It enables us to commune in virtual forums with people from different nations, to exchange goods without the barriers of language or distance, to provide personal and business services without time constraints, and to increase personal knowledge and community capacity by accessing online data resources. These activities are all newfound economic and social freedoms thanks to the innovation of information and communication technology (ICT). While urban communities have several Internet delivery models to choose from, rural communities are coping with socio-economic limitations to technological deployment of the Internet. Accessibility to the Internet is hotly debated in current political discussions as catchphrases such as “digital divide” and “net neutrality” describe the disparities between those who can afford the technology and those who are digging deep into pockets to pay for substandard service. This research seeks to explore the availability and accessibility of business-class broadband in Pennsylvanian rural communities that do not enjoy metropolitan attributes such as an abundance of Internet service providers, a variety of advanced communication infrastructures, and diversity in community actors who demand high-speed Internet services.