The push is on to bring high speed internet to rural areas around the U.S. There is major funding for the effort contained in the Farm Bill which has been passed by Congress and is headed to the President’s desk to become law.
From classroom computers to hospital telemedicine, high speed internet access has become a critical part of life.
But a lack of reliable internet access is hurting rural communities.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says, “We don’t want an urban and rural divide in this country,”
Perdue says the “reconnect” pilot program will help close that digital divide.
The initiative offers up to $600 million dollars in loans and grants for broadband infrastructure in rural America.
Perdue says, “The United States government can’t solve this by itself. What we are doing is a call to action to get all of America to come together.”
Officials hope the program strengthens partnerships between federal agencies, telecommunication companies and other stakeholders.
The program will compliment the $867 billion Farm Bill which also funds rural broadband development..
Rep. Austin Scott (R) Georgia says,”Going forward having faster internet speed in rural areas.”
Georgia congressman Austin Scott says making the connection between rural regions and the internet backbone can be expensive.
Scott says, “Any network under 10 gigabytes right now help allow the USDA come in and assist in loans and other things to help build out those networks.”
Officials say increasing investment is key to improving internet connections in unserved and underserved communities.
The USDA says it will start accepting applicants for the reconnect program in the beginning of 2019.