MIL-OSI USA: Sen. Marshall: We Don’t Need to Reinvent the Wheel When It Comes to Broadband Access

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US Senate News:

Source: United States Senator for Kansas Roger Marshall
Sen. Marshall: We Don’t Need to Reinvent the Wheel When It Comes to Broadband Access
(Washington, D.C., September 17, 2021) – U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. penned an op-ed for the Courier Traveler highlighting the importance of increasing rural broadband in Kansas to bridge the digital divide and connect those who are truly unserved.“Over the past three decades, the internet has rapidly changed everyday life and brought us new and exciting innovations, even allowing many Americans and Kansans to return to rural America and work from home. People are connected from anywhere in the world through the internet, and new possibilities for healthcare, agriculture, education, and everything in-between have been unlocked. However, many rural parts of this country are still struggling to get a reliable internet connection, and according to the Federal Communications Commission, nearly 20 million Americans are still without reliable internet access. This is unacceptable when so much of our lives rely on access to internet service…To truly bridge the gap for rural broadband, we must stay focused on efforts to connect those who are truly unserved. Broadband access is essential for the world we live in, it’s high time we bring everyone up to speed in it, and will continue to be a high priority for our office.”You may click HERE or scroll below to read Senator Marshall’s op-ed in its entirety.Kansas broadband access needs increasedBy: U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D.September 16, 2021Courier TravelerOver the past three decades, the internet has rapidly changed everyday life and brought us new and exciting innovations, even allowing many Americans and Kansans to return to rural America and work from home. People are connected from anywhere in the world through the internet, and new possibilities for healthcare, agriculture, education, and everything in-between have been unlocked. However, many rural parts of this country are still struggling to get a reliable internet connection, and according to the Federal Communications Commission, nearly 20 million Americans are still without reliable internet access. This is unacceptable when so much of our lives rely on access to internet service.In the past five years, we’ve taken major steps to close the digital divide. In 2018, I worked with congressional colleagues to establish the ReConnect program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which awards funding for projects to either fully construct, or improve facilities that provide broadband service to under and unserved areas. ReConnect provided $5.2 million to connect over 1,300 households, 16 businesses, and 23 farms in Kansas during its first round of funding.Utilizing existing programs like this and partnering with local organizations such as Kansas Farm Bureau and the Kansas League of Municipalities will reduce red tape and more efficiently bring internet to unserved areas. From launching the ReConnect program to working with state and local providers to update the national broadband maps, I’ve worked to direct federal resources toward connecting thousands of previously unserved or underserved people across the country.The pandemic has shown us just how much of our lives are reliant on a strong internet connection. Seniors were able to take advantage of new telehealth programs, so that they could connect with doctors and pharmacists from the comfort of their own home. Students could still connect with their teachers, businesses could sell their products online, and the world could continue working even though many of us were at home. Not all, however, have the luxury of a reliable and high speed connection at home, and as we look toward future investments in broadband we must ensure all resources are targeted to those who truly need service. That’s why Congress has dedicated so many resources to updating national broadband maps and ensuring existing programs are tailored to bring service to those who need it most.Current federal programs have put guardrails in place to ensure that we are prioritizing underserved households. For example, broadband programs at both the USDA as well as the FCC have set minimum download and upload speed thresholds that providers must meet in order for an area to be considered as “served.” We don’t need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to broadband access. To truly bridge the gap for rural broadband, we must stay focused on efforts to connect those who are truly unserved. Broadband access is essential for the world we live in, it’s high time we bring everyone up to speed in it, and will continue to be a high priority for our office.

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