New broadband coalition urges Congress to invest to improve high-speed rural broadband

By MARK HARMSWORTH  | 
Jul 12, 2020
BLOG

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for continued investment in wireless and wired infrastructure, particularly in rural areas that have not seen the connectivity and speed availability that more urban areas have enjoyed.

Over the last decade the telecommunications industry has invested heavily in the US telecommunication infrastructure and has stepped during the crisis up with additional infrastructure investments, providing a resilient wireless network and pledging to keep Americans connected.

While the investment has shown the US communication network is strong, additional investment is required by public and private organizations.

The American Connection Project Broadband Coalition has been formed by a 49 diverse companies, led by Land O’Lakes and including partners such as Microsoft, CenturyLink and Nestle. Their goal is to encourage public and private partnerships to improve rural internet connectivity to help communities get and stay connected.

During the pandemic, Microsoft worked with local broadband providers to improve WiFi signal strength and has provided hardware to help local internet providers improve services. This type of partnership will create jobs and provide new opportunities for those in more isolated areas.

In support of the coalition in a letter to Congress, eleven State Governors urged Congress pass legislation to make critical investments into communications infrastructure ensure all Americans have access to good internet service.

“This investment will unleash economic potential, promote stable job growth that’s resilient in times like these, and ensure all businesses and families can participate in the digital economy.” – Governors Congressional Letter on Broadband, June 8, 2020.

The Washington Policy Center recently joined a coalition of other pubic public groups in publishing principals for closing the digital divide.

These principals include,

  • Be technology neutral
  • Working with the federal government on broadband mapping
  • Reducing or eliminating state right of way fees and make state infrastructure available to speed up deployment
  • Reducing the cost and application times for 5G deployment
  • Utilizing electric co-ops infrastructure
  • Pass ‘dig once’ and ‘one-touch make ready’ policies
  • Streamline existing grant programs

Continued investment in wireless infrastructure and incentives for providers is required to expand connectivity to all Washington residents and keep Washington working.