Editorial: Broadband Internet is essential to Rural America
Strengthening access to broadband services in rural America is a priority for the wellbeing of our nation – it will ensure that everyone has the ability to engage with the world in a meaningful way. Despite the extensive progress that we have made over the past two decades to expand internet coverage, roughly 18 million Americans still do not have access to broadband at home. For too long our networks have left some of our fellow citizens out, and its time that we get to work to fix this gap.
We at Louisiana State Newspapers, provide community news coverage in 23 municipalities located in 13 parishes across this state. Information is our business, and we know firsthand that the internet has revolutionized how folks read the news and communicate with the world. Many of our readers have moved exclusively online, and get all of their information from our online news service. This trend will only accelerate as our technology improves; therefore, it is crucial that all Americans are caught up to speed with the pace of this rapid technological change. In order to stay updated, we must invest in our rural broadband coverage.
Despite all of the gridlock in Washington, this issue should receive strong bipartisan support. Already, officials from both sides of the aisle have signaled their attention to this issue, and have recognized the importance of expanding broadband access to all Americans. Republicans and Democrats must use this common ground to increase broadband access through infrastructure funding which will enable greater broadband connectivity. In turn, more funding and a robust technological infrastructure will help close the rural availability divide, and bring fast internet to everyone across the country.
Despite strong investment from the private sector on this front, we need federal policy to step in and help get the job done. Our nation only stands to benefit from closing the digital divide. Increasing rural broadband will make it easier for kids to access information for their schooling, local businesses to expand their marketplace, and for folks to find a job and get back to work. Congress must take action to include funding in some form of COVID relief stimulus effort.
We look forward to the coming push to make fast internet a reality for every American.