Several years ago, for a year and a half, I lived in Atlanta, worked in Boston, and went to school in Chicago.   This arrangement, which allowed me to earn a living and continue my education while I lived the the city of my choosing was possible because I had reliable, affordable access to broadband internet.

I would like to open a not-for-profit internet cafe in a rural area of Arkansas that does not have access to broadband (except through expensive satellite services).   While many residents of such areas have  smartphone technology such devices are not particularly useful for online classes or degree programs, online work or income generation, or building the professional websites or portfolios that facilitate career advancement or promote the sale of products or services.  The cafe would also provide basic office support services such a fax, copy, and office supplies, and would be staffed with personnel trained to support these uses of the internet.

Like the ubiquitous for profit internet cafes found in many developing countries, this not-for-profit initiative would help people connect with work, education, colleagues/customers, and other opportunities. Users would then contribute additional resources and and capacity to their, often struggling communities.

This internet cafe model would promote both individual and community development and could be easily replicated.  Its success would provide the stimulus for broadband companies to offer services throughout rural America creating increased opportunities for rural residents.

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