Improving Rural Broadband

Improving Rural Broadband

Improving Rural Broadband. I’m Greg Martin with today’s Line On Agriculture.

My wife is fond of teasing me about being plugged in. Hopalong Cassidy didn’t carry a cell phone or laptop in his saddlebags. What did I do before computers, email, the internet and iPhones? Amazingly there are still areas of the country where internet access is non-existent or very archaic to say the least. And yet more and more good ag information is being made available on the internet. Well that may be changing with the National Broadband Initiative. A public comment period is wrapping up today and according to Scott Deutchman of the FCC, they then must respond quickly.

DEUTCHMAN: In coordination with the Department of Agriculture, the Chairman of the FCC must provide Congress with a report on a rural broadband strategy by May 22nd of this year.

The Initiative is a collaborative effort between the USDA’s Rural Utilities Service, the FCC and the Department of Commerce. The broadband initiatives funded in the Recovery Act are intended to spur job growth and accelerate broadband deployment in unserved, underserved and rural areas and to strategic institutions that are likely to create jobs or provide significant public benefits. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack.

VILSACK: We’re interested in working with the private sector, working with our federal partners as well as local governments to find the most creative and innovative ways to expand this technology.

Why is this so important? Think how difficult it is to do just about any job without the right tools. Our society has embraced computer technology. Where I used to grab the World Book encyclopedia to look up a subject, it is now only a few keystrokes away on the internet. Some $4.7 billion in funding will stimulate demand and facilitate greater use of broadband services, while contributing to economic growth and job creation, pretty important in this current economic climate. Funding could start flowing as soon as next month. Broadband support in rural areas will help producers have access to much needed information. It will be interesting to watch and see how this Initiative progresses.

That’s today’s Line On Agriculture. I’m Greg Martin on the Northwest Ag Information Network.

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