World-class high-speed internet service should be affordable and accessible to all Americans, no matter where they live. Yet large parts of rural America are “digital deserts,” where high-speed internet access is unavailable at any price. In many others, service is often unreliable, unaffordable, or too slow. In South Carolina alone, over half a million people don’t have reliable access to internet at home.
In rural areas throughout the country, there are patients with diabetes who must leave their homes just to get a proper internet connection to report their blood pressure and blood sugar levels to their doctors. If those patients had broadband service, they could use teleservices to communicate with their doctors from the comfort of their own homes.
Our children are impacted too. Across America, schoolchildren are driven to the library at late hours, since that is the only way for them to complete their online homework. To give our children in rural areas a good education, we need to get them access to broadband service at home.
Rural America deserves the same high-speed internet service level that is enjoyed by urban and suburban America. House Democrats are committed to making that happen.
The Whip’s Rural Broadband Task Force is a group of House Democrats working to close the digital divide within the next five years. The Task Force is developing legislation to promote high-speed internet accessibility, affordability, and adoption. Funding for broadband services will prioritize serving those without any access today. To do this, the first step is to improve coverage maps to make sure there is an accurate picture of where unserved and underserved communities are located.
The Task Force is ensuring that underserved communities don’t get left behind again. Investments must be made for both today and the future – the broadband service provided must not just meet the internet demands of today, but also of tomorrow. This “future-proofing” guarantees that new infrastructure will be an asset for communities for many years to come.
HOUSE MAJORITY WHIP JAMES E. CLYBURN LAUNCHES TASK FORCE ON RURAL BROADBAND
WASHINGTON, DC – Today House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn launched a new House Task Force on Rural Broadband to provide coordination and leadership to end the rural-digital divide. The Task Force will work to advance solutions to ensure all Americans have access to high-speed internet by 2025.
The announcement coincides with the 7th annual Infrastructure Week and comes on the heels of a bipartisan agreement with the President to develop a $2 trillion infrastructure bill. Majority Whip Clyburn and the President agreed on the need to include significant funding for rural broadband in the package.
“High-speed internet is an essential service in America today—yet too many of our fellow citizens in rural communities are being left behind. I have heard numerous stories of families traveling many miles to places where their children can access the internet to do their homework,” said Majority Whip James E. Clyburn. “It’s unacceptable in 2019 that many rural communities have limited to no access to the internet. If rural America is to thrive in the 21st century information economy, it must have affordable and accessible internet service to every community.”
More than $60 billion in public resources have been invested to bring broadband to rural America; however, the FCC reports 25 million rural Americans are still without high-speed internet access. High-speed internet is a modern-day necessity and every American should have the ability to access affordable high-speed internet.
The Task Force will consult with key stakeholders, including rural advocates, market participants, local governments, and Administration officials to develop strategies to eliminate digital deserts and ensure rural Americans can thrive in the 21st century information economy. Top priorities include:
highlighting success stories and innovative approaches;
ensuring that federal funding for rural broadband is spent effectively;
identifying necessary steps to position the United States to lead the world in universal broadband deployment; and
passing legislation to advance a transformative agenda on rural broadband that accomplishes the goal of affordable universal access by 2025.
The task force will include the following House members:
Rep. Peter Welch (VT-at large)
Rep. Dave Loebsack (IA-2)
Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-2)
Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-3)
Rep. Sanford Bishop (GA-2)
Rep. G.K. Butterfield (NC-1)
Rep. T.J. Cox (CA-21)
Rep. Antonio Delgado (NY-19)
Rep. Abby Finkenauer (IA-1)
Rep. Jared Golden (ME-2)
Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17)
Rep. Ron Kind (WI-3)
Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-2)
Rep. Tom O’Halleran (AZ-1)
Rep. Collin Peterson (MN-7)
Rep. Abigail Spanberger (VA-7)
Rep. Xochitl Torres-Small (NM-2)