Sally Weldon pictured in October 2021. (Photo credit: Sally Weldon)
When the COVID-19 pandemic drove workplaces and schools to operate virtually, rural communities that lacked reliable internet access were disproportionately affected. In rural North Carolina, a slow and unreliable internet connection affected Sally Weldon’s ability to work efficiently.
Almost 20 years ago, Sally Weldon followed her heart and moved to Weaverville, North Carolina, to be with her husband. She instantly fell in love with the house her husband built nestled in the picturesque landscape of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Living in rural North Carolina is perfect for Sally, except for the lack of reliable and affordable high-speed internet. When she had to work from home during the pandemic, the slow, spotty internet connection became an increasingly bothersome issue. Only one person at a time could use the internet in her home, so when her granddaughter visited and needed to attend virtual school, Sally and her husband couldn’t work on their computer. But these internet troubles may soon be resolved thanks to investment to expand broadband under the American Rescue Plan. With $6 million in funds allocated to Sally’s rural county, projects to extend high-speed, reliable broadband to rural residents are already underway.
We don't want to move just for better internet service. Access to the internet shouldn’t depend on your ZIP code. With the Biden administration’s prioritizing expanding internet connectivity to rural communities, I’m hopeful that my community may finally enter the 21st century.
In 2023, access to quality, reliable internet is as essential as electricity. For decades, rural communities have been left behind in the economic and social advancements driven by internet connectivity. But thanks to the American Rescue Plan, many of these communities will finally have access to the opportunities and benefits that the internet brings.
Hear from more storytellers in the American Rescue Plan's second year
Read how the legislation has affected American lives and communities.