Broadband Is Needed Everywhere
From distance learning to telemedicine, the pandemic crisis continues to expose gaps in broadband internet access in rural areas.
Jay Haapala at AARP says, with the pandemic showing no signs of ending soon, technology is a vital way to combat social isolation in rural areas such as on farm and ranches.
"Whether it's through video-conferencing, or to connect with people online, it's not just a nice thing to have," said Haapala. "That social connection is something that's critical, to people's lives and to their health."
Officials acknowledge that might be a tough sell right now, with government revenue taking a hit, but they acknowledge reliable internet service as a crucial need for many.
Nathan Zacharias with the Rural Broadband Coalition explained, testing shows as you get into the rural countryside, the need is greater.
"You're going to see a lot of dots on our map that indicate there's low levels of service, or no service at all," Zacharias noted. We knew before the pandemic that everybody needed broadband," he said. "And I think everybody knows just a little bit more how much need it."
Zacharias says they will compile comprehensive data and present it to lawmakers during the next budget cycle.