A bipartisan group of lawmakers is encouraging President Joe Biden to make rural broadband infrastructure a priority moving forward. Members of the Congressional Rural Broadband Caucus sent a letter detailing the need for better broadband access. Biden has indicated that improvements to infrastructure are a significant priority for his Administration.
“In the 21st Century, high-speed broadband is no longer a luxury amenity, but rather an essential service for homes and businesses in this interconnected world,” the letter states. “Unfortunately, many Americans in our districts lack sufficient broadband infrastructure to take advantage of this explosion of technology and economic possibility. The digital divide between rural and urban America is significant.”
More than 70 members of Congress signed the letter calling for rural broadband infrastructure improvements. The group notes that conditions created by the pandemic have highlighted the growing issue of broadband access and the need for investment in infrastructure. As students are still engaged in remote schooling, there is a significant number of students with little to no access to high-speed internet. The letter also points out that reliable broadband internet is vital for the future economic success of rural communities.
“It provides businesses access to global customers to expand economic opportunity,” the letter reads. “High-speed broadband facilitates agricultural efficiency for farmers, supplies students and teachers with unlimited access to educational materials, and allows for doctors’ visits at home.”
The lawmakers are hopeful that Biden will include provisions for rural broadband infrastructure in the development of any infrastructure proposal. Biden is expected to present an infrastructure proposal to Congress later this year. Several of the letter signatories have pointed out the incredible value that sufficient internet access presents to rural communities. Representative Chris Jacobs said that broadband investment is necessary because “farmers should not lose revenue because they cannot compete with high-tech competitors.” Representative Tom Rice described broadband access as “an invaluable resource.”