SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) – Industries across the country are rapidly growing reliant on internet connectivity. As that expansion continues, getting rural areas connected to the internet is also growing as a pressing issue for the nation’s lawmakers.
Last week, a House subcommittee held a hearing about success stories of rural areas that have been able to extend access to broadband internet. The panel included a doctor who uses the internet to provide emergency advice when he’s not at the hospital and a farmer who is now able to use software to more efficiently fertilize crops.
A nation-wide expansion of broadband comes up regularly on Capitol Hill, but Congress falls shot on including it in a standalone package.
“Everybody knows what needs to be done. It’s the matter of joining hands and finding the pay-fors in order to pay for it,” said Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning), who represents parts of the Southern Tier and Western New York.
He’s supportive of efforts to expand broadband, but he’s not quite sure if this Congress could make it happen.
“I’m always the optimist, so I will never give up hope, but I’ll just tell you, the realistic assessment is that it’s probably going to be difficult to find $2 trillion worth of funding,” said Reed.
Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) also admits expanding broadband to rural areas is a big feat, but one that Congress could tackle.
“We electrified the country in 10 years through the New Deal,” Brindisi said. “We can do the same thing with rural broadband if we put the right programs in place and focus on areas that are working.”
Reed and Brindisi agree there needs a big initial investment and a combination of different programs and resources to make such a broadband deployment a reality.