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Rural broadband must remain a top priority

By:  Tom Gurr, Executive Director, Pacific Technology Alliance
I recently hosted a round-table discussion of rural connectivity with U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, in Pasco. At the event, we discussed the challenges many local businesses, farmers, schools and consumers face when connecting to the Internet.

It’s worth pointing out that, while Washington is considered the 14th most connected state in the nation, Benton and Franklin counties remain in the bottom tier of rural counties served, according to broadbandnow.com/Washington. As a rural resident himself, Congressman Newhouse is keen to address the problem, and is working in Congress to bridge this growing digital divide between rural and urban areas.

However, what should be noted is that the Senate recently voted to confirm Ajit Pai for a second term as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a decision that has been lauded by people across the online ecosystem. Chairman Pai is a widely respected public official with a deep commitment to ensuring that all Americans can take advantage of the technology revolution.

He has long advocated for improving rural broadband connectivity, and his work on the issue dates back to his days as a commissioner.

Since he took over the chairman’s office nine months ago, he has doubled down on his goal of advancing access to broadband. He understands that it is equally as important to be able to get online in Benton City as it is in downtown Pasco, Kennewick or Richland, and he is working to ensure that widespread connectivity is the reality.

Importantly, he has put his money where his mouth is with his nationwide tours to talk about this issue, and has shown that he is committed to promoting policies that ensure everyone has access to a broadband connection.

He launched an FCC rule to reduce red tape for Internet service providers looking to make network investments, and he created the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee, which has been tasked with making recommendations on how to accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access.

Originally published in the Tri-City Herald.  Read full editorial here.

 

Categories Blog | Tags: | Posted on November 6, 2017

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