FERGUS FALLS, Minn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The lack of reliable internet service in rural America is creating a dangerous opportunity gap that needs to be addressed in the infrastructure deal being fashioned by Congress and the White House, says Jeff Smedsrud, Chairman of public policy organization Communicating for America (CA).
“While bridges and roads are crucial in an infrastructure deal,” said Smedsrud, “we cannot let America’s rural citizens lag behind when it comes to high-speed broadband.”
Smedsrud called on political leaders formulating the infrastructure deal to get serious about putting a stop to the destructive expansion of the digital divide between urban and rural Americans. He pointed to a Federal Communications Commission report saying that roughly 39 percent of rural Americans lack access to high-speed broadband, compared with just four percent of urban Americans.
“Without high-speed internet service in rural areas, our rural citizens right now are losing opportunities for jobs, telecommuting, telemedicine and education,” he said.
“This country does not need a rural underclass; we need an even playing field when it comes to economic and social opportunities that technology provides,” Smedsrud said. “Our organization thinks of access to high-speed internet as a fundamental human right for rural Americans because of its reach into economic development, healthcare and education.”
Smedsrud said the wrangling will be intense when an infrastructure bill is readied for Congressional action, but that rural Americans and their representatives must speak out loudly now.
“To fully participate in the world digital economy, rural Americans must fight now to be included in the infrastructure debate,” said Smedsrud.
How the funding for rural broadband is delivered is up for debate, he said, but there should be no debate about the need for the $40-50 billion in funding that must be delivered soon in the interest of fairness and equity for rural people.
CA, a membership organization with agricultural roots, advocates for rural people and their rights for economic justice. Link to a summary of CA’s public policy study.
About Communicating for America
Communicating for America, Inc. (CA) is a nationwide nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that represents about 100,000 small businesses, self-employed and agricultural members across America. Since 1972 CA has been working on small business, tax, healthcare and agricultural policy issues on behalf of its members. For more information visit www.communicatingforamerica.org.