The digital divide in the United States has separated access to information for many who live in rural areas and cannot afford high speed internet. New Mexico has plenty of areas with limited access to broadband services.
The Federal Communications Commission has released $2.3 million to New Mexico during phase one of The Connect America Fund that is aiming to connect rural communities to high speed internet.
Many in Doña Ana County may not be able to afford broadband internet service, but there are places like The Branigan Library in Las Cruces where the public can access free broadband on a daily basis. However, travel thirty-four miles southeast to the community of Chaparral and you will find quite the opposite.
The Dolores Wright Community Center is the only place in Chaparral where high-speed Internet access is free besides the area schools.
The center offers two computers, where individuals spend a lot of time waiting in line trying to apply for jobs online according to Jesus Muñoz, Staff member at the Center.
“Most of the community members come and fill in applications during the day, most of them come in the morning, or sometimes they come to do research for projects that they have to do,” says Muñoz.
Bob Bunting, with The Doña Ana County Information Technology Department says smaller communities have fewer options to connect to high speed internet in the county.
“You have to go to something like a wireless ISP if you get those services, or satellite, and those are the options that are typically available,” says Bunting.
In Phase One of The Connect America Fund, around $115 million of public funding will be along with private investments to help reach the overall goal of connecting seven million rural residents in the United States.