The Internet’s more than a quarter century old, and half of rural America still isn’t wired for high-speed broadband. Yet there is still no clear Congressionally approved plan, no strategy and no single federal office responsible for connecting millions of under-served people and businesses. It’s time for an upgrade – and it’s time for Congress to provide the necessary funding. That is why I have introduced my Rural Broadband Initiative Act (H.R. 3152).
The need could not be more clear. High-speed broadband isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity required to help grow our small town rural economy and compete, start new businesses, create new jobs, attract new people and modernize the education and health care services so essential to quality of life.
Patterned after the New Deal's Rural Electrification Administration (REA) that began connecting rural America to the electrical grid in the 1930’s, our bill lays the foundation for new funding and a coordinated federal strategy to bring 21st Century high-tech communications services to millions of under-served rural people and businesses.
Our plan is to centralize key rural broadband grant and loan programs under one Office of Rural Broadband Initiatives at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. With a new Under-Secretary appointed by the President, the office would administer roughly $724 million in rural broadband grant and loan programs. Regulations would be streamlined, and local and state governments would have a one-stop shop for help in connecting their areas. Just as importantly, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would have a central information clearinghouse to help them better utilize some $4.5 billion in federal resources specifically targeted to expand broadband to rural areas.
Rural America has waited long enough for high-speed broadband and I will continue to do everything in my power to end that wait.
More on Rural Broadband
Washington, D.C.- Congressmen Jared Huffman (D-CA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Rick Nolan (D-MN) introduced the New Deal Rural Broadband Act of 2017, an ambitious plan to connect every American home, business, and school to high-speed, reliable broadband internet that is based on Roosevelt’s New Deal rural electrification model.
Congressman Rick Nolan told about 100 people gathered for the Blandin Broadband Committee’s Summit last week, at Split Rocks entertainment center, there is bipartisan support in congress behind making internet service more accessible and reliable to those in outlying areas. It’s a matter of budget priorities. Congress has implemented CAF or the Connect America Fund which is in its second iteration and sixth year, but there’s much more land area awaiting high speed, high capacity Internet than there is funding.
In today’s digital society, the Internet is king. A person can shop, talk, share, learn, conduct business or manage their bank account. With more things moving online, it is more important than ever to have Internet access readily available.
On May 26, Chisago County hosted its Broadband Summit at Splitrocks in Wyoming. The purpose of the summit was to discuss the need for better rural Internet access and how the county can go about doing that.
The Governor’s Task Force on Broadband last week released its 2016 annual report, which includes recommendations for Gov. Mark Dayton, the Legislature, and other policymakers to consider in the 2016 legislative session.
The recommendations are aimed at ensuring all Minnesotans have access to broadband, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan today teamed up with a bipartisan delegation of Representatives to establish the first ever Congressional Rural Broadband Caucus. The caucus will serve to facilitate discussion, educate Members of Congress and staff, and develop policy solutions to the digital divide that exists in rural America.
The efforts to push business-boosting, health-improving high-speed Internet deeper into rural Minnesota just keep coming — even if still a bit slowly.
Gov. Mark Dayton said in the St. Paul Pioneer Press last week that he’ll ask lawmakers to approve $100 million this legislative session to continue building out the infrastructure and running the wires that will give vast expanses of Northeastern Minnesota and other sparsely populated reaches of the state “equal access to the economic future that people in the (Twin Cities) metropolitan area (already) enjoy.”
The New Deal’s rural electrification and telephone programs are Exhibit A in a Minnesota congressman’s effort to get rural America wired for high-speed broadband.
“If we can wire rural America for electricity, if we can wire rural America for telephones, we can darn well wire rural America for high-speed broadband,” said U.S. Representative Rick Nolan, who represents Minnesota’s 8th congressional district.
Driving from Ely to Duluth this week, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar suddenly lost cell service. How fitting that in addition to a book signing and other commitments and appointments, she was scheduled to chat with the News Tribune editorial board about the pressing need to expand high-speed broadband Internet service deeper into rural Minnesota.
Recalling the success of the New Deal’s Rural Electrification Administration (REA) that began connecting every corner of rural America to the electrical grid in the 1930’s, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan has introduced legislation to launch a massive effort of similar scope for high-speed broadband. Nolan’s Rural Broadband Initiative Act (H.R. 3152) would lay the foundation for new funding and a coordinated federal strategy to bring 21st Century high-tech communications services to millions of underserved rural people and businesses.
Similar to the way every corner of America was connected to the electrical grid in the 1930s, all Americans — even those in the remotest, most rural of places, which encompasses much of Minnesota — can now be connected to broadband high-speed Internet. Getting everyone online is seen as critical for delivering health care outside of big cities, for improving the education of all kids and so businesses, no matter where they’re located, can remain competitive in today’s global economies.