Rural places have experienced pernicious digital inequities for decades. Recent Pew Survey data finds that 28% of rural households in the US do not have broadband Internet access. For years, solutions to this digital divide have involved trillions of dollars invested into infrastructure that never quite bridges the gap. Instead of playing a perpetual game of technology catch-up, rural communities might benefit from embracing multinetworked realities–heterogeneous connectivity options that exist unevenly across time and space.
In this talk, Dr. Vigil-Hayes will discuss the characteristics of a multinetworked reality and why it is likely to represent the future of rural broadband connectivity. She will then present findings from her work in New Mexico and Arizona that illuminate different ways to understand and leverage multinetworked realities to support increased access to networked services. This work weaves together threads from a number of methodologies that range from mobile network measurement, network architecture design, and ethnography and culminates in a vision for centering rurality in the design of new technologies for a multinetworked future. Importantly, Dr. Vigil-Hayes will highlight how rural places represent potential centers of innovation for reimagining network service delivery that can solve some of the digital inequities experienced in urban and suburban communities.