Washington, D.C. — Nowhere in the country is the “digital divide,” or lack of broadband access, more prevalent than in rural America. Hopefully, that will soon change.
House Agriculture Republicans introduced the Broadband For Rural America Act today. It would provide more than $7 billion in authorizations for USDA broadband connectivity programs.
It authorizes $3.7 billion per year for critical rural broadband programs. It establishes 25/3 Mbps connections as the threshold for minimum broadband service and imposes new buildout requirements to ensure that broadband networks financed through the USDA meet the long-term needs of rural residents. And it also targets limited resources, so assistance is focused on the most rural and least-connected residents.
“I represent all or part of 24 counties in the state of Georgia. I live on the border of two of those counties, Tift and Turner. Fifteen miles to the north you have access to high-speed internet and 15 miles to the south you have access to high-speed internet. But for those of us who live in between the cities we have significant challenges with everything from our kids’ homework to simply doing day-to-day bill paying,” said Congressman Austin Scott (R-GA-08). “The key aspect to me of this legislation that is different from others is what I would refer to as fast-forward funding. It is the $3.7 billion a year for two years that we’re going to put into the USDA.”
Statement from Republican Leader of the Agriculture Committee, Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson
“There are many broadband infrastructure plans, but the House GOP package puts a detailed plan on paper. This is also the only proposal that utilizes the expertise of USDA and focuses agencies across the government towards one common goal: connecting all Americans.
“Let’s put aside partisan differences, debate the merits of this legislation, and address this significant infrastructure need.”