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Better, Faster, Stronger: The Case for 25/3 Mbps

May 20, 2021
Op-Eds

Better, Faster, Stronger: The Case for 25/3 Mbps
Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO)
May 20, 2021
https://www.republicanleader.gov/rep-hartzler-better-faster-stronger-the-case-for-25-3-mbps/

Throughout my tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives, rural broadband has always been a critical need not only for my district, but nationwide in homes across rural America. The urgency has been amplified over the past year thanks to a generational pandemic which has negatively impacted our children’s physical, mental, and social wellbeing and complicated work-from-home situations as schools and businesses have been closed and shuttered due to Democrat lockdowns.

As we navigate back to a new normal, our technology must keep up with the constantly-changing world we live in. I have long fought in Congress for improved speed standards of at least 25/3 Mbps which meet the challenges of tomorrow while also advocating for expanded access into homes which otherwise may not get the attention they need. These efforts include issuing loan guarantees to local lenders, ensuring providers have the resources they need to provide quality service to our nation’s families. But we must continue the progress we have made in recent years.

That is why improving rural broadband is so critical for the future of these agricultural regions of the United States.

Thankfully, the Broadband for Rural America Act addresses critical needs for communities that may fall into inadequate service areas—through no fault of their own—which are overlooked by the existing USDA pilot program. By increasing speed standards within USDA’s broadband programs from 10/1 Mbps to 25/3 Mbps, we can bring more Americans up to speed while expanding access at the same time.

So, why is the change to 25/3 Mbps so important?

Rural Americans are hit hardest by poor internet service. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), nearly one in five rural Americans still lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps service, compared to only 2 percent of urban Americans. Even more troubling is the fact that 29 percent of farms in America have no Internet access. These inequities in our ever-growing age of technological expansion exacerbates the needs in these communities and limits rural Americans’ ability to compete with their neighbors in cities and other metropolitan areas throughout the country.

Not only do these farmers rely on rural broadband for their basic operations, but they also rely on quality Internet service to undertake precision agriculture activities which help to produce optimal yields, improve environmental stewardship practices, and perform other critical business practices. Without heightened standards, we leave this industry in the dust, negatively impacting producers and consumers as a result.

For millions of our nation’s farmers, children, and fellow Americans, overhauling and improving the state of our rural broadband is essential to the betterment of these communities. Under Republican leadership, rural America is best served.