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View from the Cab: Bridging the divide

By: Kent Casson

A new infrastructure proposal in Washington, D.C. could actually help bridge the digital divide for communities around the nation.

I have often spoken about the need for fast, reliable Internet connections especially here in rural Illinois. Believe it or not, there are areas in this country where people aren’t online at all and this should change in my opinion.

House Agriculture Republicans last week introduced the Broadband for Rural America Act, which is one of several infrastructure proposals. This would provide over $7 billion in authorizations for USDA broadband connectivity programs.

“The one issue that unites rural members on both sides of the aisle is the need to address the digital divide,” said Glenn GT Thompson, Republican leader of the Agriculture Committee. “This critical infrastructure void has been exacerbated by the challenges faced by rural families and businesses during the pandemic.”

The act authorizes $3.7 billion per year for critical rural broadband programs, including the ReConnect Rural Broadband Program, the Middle Mile Broadband Program and the Innovative Broadband Advancement Program. It also targets limited resources so assistance is focused on the most rural and least-connected residents which are often the most expensive to connect.

Borrower accountability is promoted in this act and taxpayers are protected with new tools to ensure promised services are delivered to rural communities.

“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 of connecting all Americans,” Thompson added.

He said he hopes everyone puts aside partisan differences, debates the merits of the legislation and addresses the significant infrastructure need.

I hope you all had a great Memorial Day weekend unofficially kicking-off the summer season. Hard to believe the kids are out of school and vacation season is starting. Before we know it, the summer fairs will be here along with the summer holidays and other activities.


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