Two nationwide coalitions weighed in last week with letters to congressional leadership, urging them to support bills that would help pay for expanding rural broadband while cutting red tape that sometimes stands in the way of improving service.
The Tech Councils of North America, representing about 35 state and regional groups representing more than 20,000 tech firms, and Connect Americans Now, which spoke for 46 groups ranging from farmers to schools to small businesses, independently outlined the connectivity problem in much of rural America.
While about 95 percent of American homes have access to the internet, the percentage is much lower in rural America — and as low as 50 percent in parts of Wisconsin. About 42 million Americans lack internet access, which means there’s no working or schooling from home during a pandemic.
Connect Americans Now urged a “technology neutral” approach to federal broadband legislation, which means technologies ranging from television “white space” transmission, small-cell wireless technologies and yes, giant balloons, could all be a part of the fix if satellite and fiber-optic solutions aren’t available or cost too much. It also urged minimizing “administrative burdens” where possible.
Signers included the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association, Wisconsin Independent Businesses, the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association and the Wisconsin Technology Council.
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