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
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.