By BJ Webb — Director of Sales & Marketing
As a 75-year-old communications company, United Communications has seen the positive impact new technological advances can have on communities. The increasing need for high-speed internet has become one of the most important advancements in our history—so important that our Project UNITE initiative was specifically created with the goal of providing high-speed internet to every unserved home or business in Middle Tennessee.
I’ve lived in many different metropolitan areas where high-speed internet was a given. But in late 2022, there are still rural and suburban areas across the country where high-speed internet is not yet available. I want to share a few specific opportunities that a high-speed internet connection creates for residents, businesses, and local governments:
1. High-Speed Internet Allows for Remote Work
The number of businesses that have adopted a remote or hybrid work model has increased dramatically over the past two years. Before the pandemic, only 5% of work time was spent at home. That jumped to 60% during the pandemic. What started as a necessity during the pandemic has shifted to become a normal part of operating a business. In fact, 57% of small and medium-sized businesses plan to offer remote work plans to employees for the long term.
Access to high-speed internet is an essential factor in making remote work possible. In order to work from home, employees need their internet connection to be fast and reliable. Everyday work responsibilities such as video conferencing, interacting on live cloud-hosted documents, or sharing photos and videos require a stable, high-speed internet connection.
2. High-Speed Internet Increases Employment and Career Opportunities in Rural Areas
Right now, there are more than 1 million people in Tennessee who don’t have access to high-speed internet. Most of them live in suburban or rural areas. By providing these residents with access to high-speed internet, not only are we helping to bridge the digital divide, but this also increases new employment opportunities within these rural areas. In addition to supporting businesses that already exist, access to high-speed internet also attracts remote workers who want to establish firm roots in new communities.
3. High-Speed Internet Enhances Educational Opportunities
Equal access to education is impossible without equal access to broadband. Over the past few years, access to high-speed internet has had a powerfully transformative and positive impact on education—online and in the classroom.
Access to high-speed internet in education takes learning to new heights, and I have firsthand experience attending classes by Zoom while earning my MBA in 2020 through the University of Illinois iMBA program. As video conferencing becomes an integral part of digital learning and online education degrees, upload speed is an important factor for everyday use. It also supports student engagement within the classroom. With high-speed internet in the classroom, students of all ages can interact with digital models, watch instructional videos, view new data, and research the topic they’re studying.
In addition to supporting student needs, high-speed internet also allows lifelong learners to earn new certifications, maintain their credentials with online CPE credits, or learn skills in an entirely new field.
4. High-Speed Internet Makes Telehealth Accessible
Telehealth has become much more common in recent years. In fact, telehealth visits have increased by 38% since 2019. This shift has created enormous benefits for both patients and doctors. Rather than having to drive long distances for a doctor’s appointment, patients can now attend necessary visits online. Telehealth appointments also open up access to specialists outside of a patient’s local area. It also enables doctors and hospitals to work more efficiently and preserve healthcare resources. Making telehealth accessible in under-served communities is only possible with high-speed internet.
5. High-Speed Internet Bolsters Local Economic Development
When you create opportunities for residents and individual businesses, the entire community benefits. Towns with high-speed internet have significantly higher economic strength and health than towns with fewer high-speed gigabit connections. High-speed internet opens up economic development for communities in a variety of ways: from supporting businesses to powering the work and connection of local governments.
We’re on a Mission to Create More Opportunities for Local Communities
United Communications is on a mission to bring high-speed internet access to suburbs and rural communities in Middle Tennessee. We’ve had a firsthand view of the tangible impact that high-speed internet has on residents and businesses in suburban and rural communities. Whether it’s a local grocery store in Eagleville or a small business owner who works from home, there’s no denying how access to high-speed internet allows people to work more effectively and live more efficiently.
If you want to benefit from all the opportunities that broadband allows, see if your area has access to our high-speed internet solutions. You can also learn more about Project UNITE and join our effort to bring high-speed internet access to every Middle Tennessean.
Director of Sales & Marketing at United Communications
With over 20 years of executive experience in telecommunications and cybersecurity, BJ Webb is passionate about eliminating the digital divide. She is actively involved in Project UNITE, an initiative to provide fast, reliable broadband service to every under-connected home or business in the Tennessee mid-state region. BJ’s expertise was honed through years of corporate business experience in various sales, marketing, business operations, and business transformation roles. Before joining United Communications, BJ worked for more than 20 years leading product marketing and marketing teams. She is passionate about serving customers and providing them with the best possible experience.
BJ earned her MBA from the University of Illinois Gies College of Business in 2020 with specializations in Digital Marketing, Strategic Innovation, and Finance. She also holds a certificate in Design Thinking from the University of Texas at Austin, a certificate in Marketing Strategy and a certificate in Data-Driven Marketing from Cornell University, a micro-credential in Organizational Transformation from the Project Management Institute, and a BS in Business Administration from the University of Illinois. BJ and her family recently relocated to Franklin, TN.