Washington, DC…As we look to the future of agriculture, manufacturing, small business, education, and healthcare, we see a common thread: every advance requires robust Internet connectivity. As President Donald J. Trump said during his State of the Union address, he is eager “to deliver new and important infrastructure investment, including investments in the cutting-edge industries of the future.” Those industries will rely heavily on widespread, secure, and reliable connectivity.
However, for millions who live in rural America, the promise of high-speed broadband networks are still just that—a promise yet to be realized. Nearly 39 percent of rural Americans lack sufficient broadband access, creating a digital divide that is leaving too many behind. From homework to healthcare, high-speed internet is a modern-day essential at home. Also, the Nation and the world rely on the commodities and goods that rural America produces – from its croplands, ranchlands, forests, factories, and mines. The competitiveness of America will increasingly require Internet connectivity for these vital industries to be able to use all possible 21st Century technological advances. Unfortunately, the wide-open spaces and unique geography that make rural America great also make it significantly harder and more expensive to build secure broadband networks.
From the first days of his Administration, President Trump has made it a priority to invest in our Nation’s infrastructure and bring prosperity to rural America once again. Agencies are removing regulatory red tape and identifying opportunities for coordination, making it easier for the private sector to invest and build safe and reliable broadband networks to the areas that need access most. Yesterday’s report is another step towards ensuring that all Americans have access to the vital resources they need to participate fully in the opportunities of the future. The American Broadband Initiative report serves as a roadmap for Federal departments to streamline permitting, leverage more Government assets, and maximize the effectiveness of taxpayer funds to bring high-speed broadband networks to rural America.
THIS OP-ED ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN AGRI-PULSE ON FEBRUARY 14, 2019. By: Michael Kratsios and Chris Liddell