In Mississippi, a young woman’s education hangs on better internet

In the first of our series highlighting people in underserved areas, we visit a Mississippi teenager looking to improve her chances of success through online connectivity


Natchez Arnold was born and raised in a remote area of Burton, Mississippi. Fond of the simpler things in life, this 16-year-old has a passion for connecting with nature, spending time with family, and doing what any typical teenager likes to do – hang out with friends.

Burton is the kind of small town where your neighbors are family, hunting is a staple and internet connectivity is almost non-existent. If there is internet service, it’s most likely offered through a local mobile telcom provider and usually not very reliable. Additionally, there are no plans on the near horizon to bring cable- or fiber-based internet service to the area, as the infrastructure for these services is too expensive an endeavor for these operators.

“Now that we have the internet, I’ll be able to do my homework on time and get one step closer to closing in on my dreams.” —Natchez Arnold

With aspirations to one day become a forensic pathologist, Natchez was on the wrong side of the digital divide, and having internet at home just wasn’t an option.

“All of my friends at school have internet at their homes; unfortunately I just can’t keep up,” Natchez said.

Making her dreams a reality is a priority for Natchez and her parents. She knows pursuing higher education will be expensive, and her goal is to take online classes and dual enroll so that she can complete her general education studies early and begin her major coursework upon entering college. But without internet at home, Natchez was at a disadvantage.

During the previous school year, the Arnold family was driving at least 20 minutes to access internet at their grandmother’s house or over 45 minutes to the Booneville library so Natchez could try to keep up with her classmates and class assignments. When those options weren’t available, she had to get creative.

“I used any free time at school: breakfast, our morning break or I would even get to school early, having to rush through my work to finish on time,” Natchez said.

Recently, though, the Arnold family learned they had another option to help Natchez get her homework complete and their home connected: satellite internet. With Viasat service installed within a few hours, the Arnold family is now connected through the power of satellite communications.

“It’s really fast,” Natchez said. “Now that we have the internet, I’ll be able to do my homework on time and get one step closer to closing in on my dreams.”

For rural communities like Burton, Mississippi, satellite internet can often be the only reliable option to connect the unconnected. At Viasat, we are dedicated to digital inclusion: bridging the digital divide community-by-community, state-by-state and country-by-country.


The Arnold Family is among millions in the U.S. not served well — or all at all — by traditional internet providers.

Carley Brennan