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Back in the late 1800s, America was determined to expand and created the dream of a connected country. No innovation played a more vital role in that than the railroad. Trains were the biggest transformative advancement in transportation technology in the history of the United States.

Railroad expansion brought unprecedented economic prosperity—towns sprang up where none had existed before, the time it took to distribute goods was reduced by 90%, crop yields increased and populations expanded.

Since then, nothing has compared to that giant leap in connecting people through modern technology—until now.

Broadband, or high speed Internet, is the new railroad. As it expands into more and more communities it brings with it prosperity and more.

A New Online Track for Education

Online and distance learning has evolved tremendously in recent years. In fact, students with a high speed Internet connection can take classes online at almost any college or university in the world. There are a number of available resources, and YouTube isn't just for watching ice bucket videos.  

For example, The Khan Academy has over 1.8 Million subscribers and 48,000 video shorts on Math, Science, Chemistry and Physics.  

The U.S. Distance Learning Association has a number of great resources as well. Locally, Arkansas State University at Newport is a 2-year institution that has a great selection of online classes.  

Telemedicine On Board in Rural Locations  

One of the best examples how broadband has significantly impacted health care is the Arkansas eLink project, which enables telemedicine (the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another by electronic communications) in more than 450 locations across all 75 Arkansas counties.  

In 2007, Arkansas was ranked 52nd, (below Puerto Rico and the USVI), for stroke related deaths. Through Arkansas eLink, the AR SAVES (Arkansas Stroke Assistance through Virtual Emergency Support) program connects rural locations via broadband back to heath care networks so doctors can diagnose stroke patients early and save lives. Furthermore, in 2013 alone, the AR SAVES program detected a reason for early treatment of more than 1,873 patients.

Economic Development at Every Stop

New businesses looking to move into an area view broadband as a required utility. This is especially true in rural areas where manufacturers look to capitalize on the low cost of electricity and wastewater. These local businesses benefit because they now have access to the fastest broadband Internet speeds, even in the most remote areas. Also, these organizations can take advantage of an online toolset of applications that makes their businesses more profitable and sustainable: and