Community Development News

Rural communities are waiting for the Legislature to act on broadband

The Nebraska Legislature has the opportunity to put rural communities on a level playing field with the state’s metro areas. LB 549, introduced this session, would make important investments in broadband service mapping across the state. For too long, these maps have given the wrong service information, blinding the Legislature as it tries to decide where to invest resources for broadband expansion.

Broadband is a basic service for all Nebraskans

From Omaha to the Panhandle, broadband access impacts every Nebraskan. From training a 21st century workforce to growing small business investment and supporting the state’s agricultural producers, our connection to broadband Internet has become a defining factor of our quality of life.

Unfortunately for many rural areas, the impact of broadband is measured not by access, but by its unmistakable absence.

Slow internet speeds frustrating for education, business

Before moving back to the family farm outside Juniata, in Adams County, my husband and I lived in rural southwest Iowa.

When we were preparing for the move to Nebraska, it became apparent that internet access was very limited. We called more than 10 companies, and only one offered service to our location, service which ended up being of very poor quality.

Now is the time for the Legislature to step up on broadband

An overreliance on faulty data may be leaving thousands of rural Nebraska households out of the digital age. Twice per year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) collects broadband access data through Form 477 from internet service providers. This data has a host of problems and can severely overestimate broadband access.

Many Nebraskans are being left behind because of this inaccurate information. Meanwhile, state and local governments are using this information as a primary source to distribute their limited resources—something it was never intended to be used as.

USDA broadband initiative provides hope, ignores major barrier

Across rural America, communities are increasingly depending on high-speed internet to complete an education, talk to their doctors, or adopt the latest farm technology. Meanwhile, access to broadband internet speeds has become a necessity in today’s digital economy. If businesses wish to compete with one another, a strong online presence has become a requirement, not a luxury. As we advance deeper into the 21st century, access to broadband will continue to be an important indicator of quality of life for communities across the nation.

Pages

Get The Newsletter?