Connections are important. As farmers and ranchers, we value connections with our neighbors, our legislators, our agronomists, our veterinarians and so many other people who help make sure we run our businesses efficiently, responsibly and effectively.

In 2018, we lean heavily on the use of smartphones, tablets and internet access to get our jobs done. Some of us have better and faster connections to the internet than others. In major cities and areas with better coverage, this ability to connect quickly is sometimes taken for granted.

Living and working in rural areas of Kansas and the U.S. shouldn’t cause limited access to essential tools, and I’d argue reliable internet access is essential to the business of agriculture. Every Kansan deserves high-speed service no matter where they live. From emergency services to advances in educational opportunities to precision agriculture, urban and rural areas alike depend on fast and reliable wireless service.

Nearly 40 percent of rural Americans go without high-speed internet today, yet sometimes the “coverage” maps indicate another story – and in Kansas, these maps show coverage throughout virtually the entire state. We know this isn’t the case.

That’s why Kansas Farm Bureau is working to challenge the legitimacy of these coverage maps from the various major cellular carriers in Kansas.

The Federal Communications Commission is providing $4.53 billion in support over 10 years to primarily rural areas that lack unsubsidized 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) service, according to the FCC website.

Because the coverage maps of Kansas indicate there is service available from one carrier or another, Kansas Farm Bureau is seeking help from Kansans to show a lack of reliable cell phone coverage exists.

Speed tests throughout the state will be required for Kansas Farm Bureau to show the FCC necessary data.

This is where we need help from fellow Kansans. These speed tests are an integral part of being considered for the grant dollars provided by the FCC. To show our need for reliable cell phone coverage, we need to prove it’s an issue.

Speed tests can be run by downloading the FCC Speed Test App in the Google Play store or the Apple App store. Install the app on your phone, then turn off Wi-Fi and enable GPS or Location Services. Please run the test between 6 a.m. and midnight, and you must be outside.

For more information about the challenge and how to run the speed test, visit www.kfb.org/ConnectingKansas.

Everyone in America and specifically Kansas should get the reliable, high-speed cell phone coverage they deserve to create, maintain and promote connections. Help us help you get the coverage you can rely on to efficiently run your business. Rural Kansas should not be left in the digital-age dust.