The Pandemic Has Exposed The Widening Broadband Gap

I never worried about internet until I moved to a rural community. Now it’s a constant aggravation.

Samantha Bookman
6 min readMar 25, 2021
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

When I moved out of Boston in March 2020, with the pandemic at my heels, getting enough broadband bandwidth to work reliably from home wasn’t the biggest worry on my mind.

It wasn’t even too big of a concern a half-year earlier, when I’d started looking for a house to buy. In the hazy summer of 2019, I’d simply been enchanted with Vermont’s natural wonders and its laid-back vibe, a stark contrast with Boston’s buttoned-up mentality.

I realized that I didn’t have to keep struggling with Boston’s traffic — at the time, on track to become the worst in the U.S. — and its never-ending road construction. I didn’t have to frown at the film of grime that settled over every fresh snowfall. I didn’t have to deal with the stress of navigating the creaking, groaning T, packed in with other commuters.

I was tired of living in a 500-square-foot apartment that I paid a premium for just so I could live within walking distance of the T. I already worked part of my week remotely; there was no reason, I realized, that I couldn’t take meetings over the phone from a house with a view of the country.

Broadband: A Key Factor In the Home Search

Good broadband and good cell service were important elements of my home search. I didn’t know how crucial they would become just a few months later.

And finding a home where I had access to both broadband and a cell signal turned out to be surprisingly difficult.

Even though plenty of homes were on the market in my price range, more than a few were crossed off the list when I checked area providers and their max broadband speeds. A few more were X-ed out when I visited the properties, held up my cellphone and looked at the bars.

When I settled on a house in the village I now live in, I thought — naively — that I’d have a choice of fast broadband providers, based on a state-maintained map of available broadband services in the area.



Samantha Bookman

Writer, editor, novelist. Stunningly mediocre martial artist. Friend of technology. Avid traveler.