House Panel Told Broadband Policies Should Not Worsen Urban/Rural Divide

September 11, 2019 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – A far-reaching broadband connectivity should not be dictated by the location of a home or business, but rather should foster economic growth and sustainable communities by being equally accessible by all.

That was the overarching message delivered to the House Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Infrastructure during a recent field trip to the University of Maine.

Arranged by Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, the subcommittee’s chairman, and its ranking member, Rep. Pete Stauber, R-Minn., the bipartisan Sept. 6 session with small business in the state couldn’t have come at a more critical moment.

Currently about 83,000 homes and business across the state don’t have access to broadband internet service. Despite this, just last month, the Maine legislature failed to pass a bond proposal that included $15 million for broadband expansion.

Rep. Golden said at the outset that he hoped hearing attendees would identify potential changes Congress could make to improve small business connectivity.

We’re going to find the solutions that will help us connect more small businesses in rural Maine with high-speed broadband in places like Baileyville, Machias, and Roque Bluffs, not in Washington,” Golden said.

“That’s why it’s so important that we bring Congress to Washington County, where small businesses and towns are doing the hard work — and succeeding — to build the broadband infrastructure their communities need,” he said.

Stauber said it’s plain to see that with fast and reliable broadband access, even the smallest towns and communities can compete with the rest of the world.

“I am committed to closing the digital divide between our urban and rural communities as broadband is vital to the success of every small business, school, hospital, and family,” he said. “I am thankful to be working with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle on this issue. Together, we can ensure every American small business and family has access to dependable broadband.”

Among those who addressed the committee was Mary Hanscom, a local selectwoman who also happens to own a family-run blueberry farm.

Hanscom, who also runs a pair of Airbnb rentals, said she is currently forced to use an “inadequate” internet to advertise blueberry products and interact with rental customers.

“When my internet service has slowed, as it inevitably does at night, I have lost connections with my Airbnb customers,” she said. “This happens on a regular basis. Have I lost those customers? I don’t know. But clearly this quality of communication is not conducive to positive business interactions.

“There are many more of me – farmers, fisherman, lobster sellers — who either are paying exorbitant prices for better connectivity or are struggling to make this inadequate technology work for them,” she continued. “In Roque Bluffs, we had residents who planned to run their businesses out of their homes but who sold those homes because their internet service was so slow.”

While Hanscom said she appreciated the subcommittee’s focus on small business, she reminded them that “few businesses exist in isolation.”

“They are integral parts of communities,” she said. “Creating a business friendly community means keeping young people from moving away, attracting new working age residents, and creating an educated workforce. This requires broadband not only at work but at home for students and for employees and their families.

“The ‘last mile’ problem is not literally one mile, but many. Most small, rural communities lack a broadband network altogether. The problem is not the single mile down the driveway to the road, it is extending the network over many miles to provide service on the road itself. Once the network has been extended, providing service to all customers, not just small businesses, becomes economical,” Hanscom added.

Mark Ouellette, president and CEO of Axiom Technologies, a broadband service provider whose customers include some of the hardest to reach in the state, said whatever the committee decides to do, it must make sure its solution bridges, rather than worsens the urban/rural divide.

“All small businesses are not created equally,” he said. “A job created or retained in a rural community can have an oversized impact.”

Next, the government needs to stop investing in outdated and unscalable technology, and needs to spend more time focusing on the reliability of the technology is does deploy.

Lastly, Quellette noted that bridging the digital divide means more than providing homes and businesses with a good connection.

“It requires educating subscribers how to leverage their connection through digital literacy teaching and classes,” he said. ” The federal government can play an outsized role in educating  citizens and municipalities on how to better leverage a broadband connection.”

Technology

Government Agencies Make Progress Implementing Zero Trust
Cybersecurity
Government Agencies Make Progress Implementing Zero Trust
November 23, 2020
by Kate Michael

WASHINGTON — Zero Trust is an approach to the design and implementation of internet technology networks. This security concept developed out of the belief that organizations should not trust anything — either outside or inside — its perimeter. Therefore, everything must be verified before being granted... Read More

EU Auditors: Antitrust Probes Too Slow to Curb Tech Giants
European Union
EU Auditors: Antitrust Probes Too Slow to Curb Tech Giants

LONDON (AP) — The EU's efforts to rein in the power of big tech companies such as Google and Facebook through antitrust investigations have taken too long, dulling their effectiveness, a report said Thursday. Legal tools available to the bloc's competition regulators, meanwhile, have not kept... Read More

Schrier Helps Tribes Secure First-Ever Licenses to Expand Internet Access
Congress
Schrier Helps Tribes Secure First-Ever Licenses to Expand Internet Access
November 11, 2020
by Sean Trambley

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Kim Schrier, D-Wash., recently helped the Nisqually and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in her district fulfill a long time dream. They are two of eight tribes in the state to receive first-of-their-kind licenses for 2.5 GHz wireless broadband services. ... Read More

Bipartisan Policy Center Hosts MOCs on Rural Broadband, Telehealth Discussion
Congress
Bipartisan Policy Center Hosts MOCs on Rural Broadband, Telehealth Discussion
October 23, 2020
by Sara Wilkerson

This week, the Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank based in Washington, D.C, hosted Reps. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J. and Dave Joyce, R-Ohio,  for a discussion of rural broadband access in connection with telehealth and education. The discussion was part of the American Congressional Exchange Program from... Read More

Senate Committee Seeks Subpoena Against Facebook and Twitter Leaders
Social Media
Senate Committee Seeks Subpoena Against Facebook and Twitter Leaders
October 22, 2020
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- A Senate committee voted to subpoena the chief executives of Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. Thursday over what its chairman called censorship of information potentially embarrassing to presidential candidate Joe Biden. The social media giants limited the sharing of New York Post articles that... Read More

Google Monopoly Case by US Sets Stage for Multipronged Attack
Business
Google Monopoly Case by US Sets Stage for Multipronged Attack

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Justice Department sued Alphabet Inc.'s Google in the most significant antitrust case against an American company in two decades, kicking off what promises to be a volley of legal actions against the search giant for allegedly abusing its market power. Google, which controls about 90% of the online... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top