Digital divide: Just an hour from Gig City, rural residents live - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Digital divide: Just an hour from Gig City, rural residents live in broadband desert

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POLK COUNTY, TN (Times Free Press) - Jed Arthur was at his wits' end. He lives on a remote road in Polk County, Tenn., and runs a successful tire business, Jed's Wholesale Tires, out of a warehouse just 300 yards from his house. His son and daughter-in-law live next door. He's fourth, maybe fifth generation Polk County, named after "The Beverly Hillbillies" character and proud of it. (No one ever forgets his name once he tells them that, he said.)

He and his nine employees have been selling tires since 1990, peddling on Amazon, eBay and the company's own websites. At least 50 percent of Arthur's business comes directly from online -- but for years, Arthur ran the business on a measly 1.5 megabits-per-second Internet line, and dished out $800 a month for it.

With seven computers plugged into that line, it took three minutes just to upload a photo. Sometimes, Arthur would start an upgrade at 6 p.m. and it still wouldn't be done at 8 a.m. the next day. His employees were wasting valuable time.

Read more from our partners at the Times Free Press.

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