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With internet, sometimes you don’t know what you have unti…


"Can you guys hear me OK? My internet is being super weird today."

I must have said that two or three times during the early moments of a meeting with our editorial team at Agweek on Aug. 17. I work from home, in my basement, about six feet away from an internet router that keeps me connected to the world far removed from our central North Dakota farm.

Eventually, it became obvious that no, no one could hear me, but I was able to call into the meeting and proceed as close to normal as possible. When the meeting ended, I set about trying to figure out what was going on.

It turns out, about 60% of North Dakota was out of internet that afternoon from what has been deemed a "bug." The problem was solved about five hours after my picture on Google Meets started freezing up.

For me, the afternoon was a good reminder of how lucky I am.

I have many meetings, mostly over Zoom or Google Meets, every week. And no, that's not what makes me lucky. I am lucky that I live in a time in which I am able to sit in my basement in a fairly remote area and participate in meetings to enable me to continue my career. In an earlier time — and probably not that much earlier — I'd have had a much harder time becoming an editor while working from home.

As the internet outage stretched across several hours, I did what work I could while relying on my smart phone to connect me to the systems that I needed. I still wasn't able to do quite all of my normal duties, but it was something.

By the next morning, everything was back to normal, and I was able to get done what needed to get done.

According to the Federal Communications Commission , in 2020, 22.3% of people in rural areas and 27.7% of people on tribal lands in the U.S. lack sufficient broadband coverage. Compare that to 1.5% of people living in urban areas.

Efforts to connect these areas need to continue. Just as rural electrification once transformed what was possible in rural areas, continuing to make sure that all people are able to connect to the internet will allow more people to live comfortably in rural areas, start and run businesses, utilize new technologies in agriculture, take classes, connect to family members and more.

I was only without connection to my work for about five hours, but it was a good lesson for me. I sometimes think it would be nice to go back to a less connected, slower world. But, those five hours reminded me that I would not live the life I live were it not for those connections and technologies.

So, let's keep the momentum going on getting more people connected so we can truly make all rural communities and places livable for modern life.

Jenny Schlecht is Agweek's editor. She lives on a farm and ranch in Medina, North Dakota, with her husband and two daughters. She can be reached at or 701-595-0425.

Jenny Schlecht
Opinion by Jenny Schlecht

Jenny Schlecht is the director of ag content for Agweek and serves as editor of Agweek, Sugarbeet Grower and BeanGrower. She lives on a farm and ranch near Medina, North Dakota, with her husband and two daughters. You can reach her at or 701-595-0425.

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