Why rural Americans are having a hard time working from home

Updated 8:14 AM ET, Wed April 29, 2020

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(CNN)Every Sunday since the coronavirus lockdown started, Stephanie Anstey drives 20 minutes from her home in Grottoes, Virginia, to sit in her school's near-empty parking lot and type away on her laptop.

Anstey, a middle school history teacher, lives in a valley between two mountains, where the only available home internet option is a satellite connection. Her emails can take 30 seconds to load, only to quit mid-message. She can't even open files on Google Drive, let alone upload lesson modules or get on a Zoom call with colleagues.
"You just have to plan," Anstey said. "It's not a Monday through Friday job anymore."
So Anstey's new office is in her car in the corner of the parking lot where the WiFi signal is strongest. She comes here when she needs to upload instructional videos, answer emails from students and parents or participate in the occasional video conferencing call. It's not ideal, she says, but using her slow internet at home is even more frustrating.
Anstey's predicament casts a new light on a longstanding digital divide that is being made even starker by the coronavirus pandemic.
More than 18 million Americans -- about 5.6 percent of the US population -- lack access to high-speed internet, according to the Federal Communications Commission. (Many technology experts dispute the agency's figures -- the company BroadbandNow says the real number is more than double that.)