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We are creating a new class system in the US–those who have true high-speed internet and those who do not. You don’t have to think back very long to remember when most schooling in the US was via remote learning. Remote learning works well if you are on a fiber line, but that is not what most of rural America has, and certainly not most of District 88. What happens if you have more than one child trying to do remote Zoom learning and the best internet speed you can get–if at all–is only 1Mbps?

What this country needs is a concerted effort to deliver high speed internet to everyone–much like what happened nearly 100 years ago with the Rural Electrification Act program. Prior to the REA in 1935, less than eleven percent of our farms were receiving central station electricity.  On May 11, 1935, by Executive Order, President Roosevelt established the Rural Electrification Administration as an emergency agency ”to initiate, formulate, administer, and supervise a program of approved projects with respect to the generation, transmission, and distribution of electric energy in rural areas.” By 1959, Senator Sam Rayburn reported that 90 percent of farm homes in the U.S. were electrified.

For over a decade, our federal government has been mostly talking about a rural broadband telecommunications network and rural internet.  Earlier this year the FCC announced that it had awarded $9.2B for rural broadband in all 50 states.  Care to guess who won over $36M for Hampshire and Mineral Counties???  The answer is Frontier.

We have good people in WV who are working to deliver broadband internet. For example, the Hampshire County Broadband Initiative Council, a model of “how to get things done,” is extending broadband coverage throughout the county, but we need more.

President Biden likes to sign Executive Orders… how about signing one that should be non-controversial?  He should sign one to actually deliver true broadband internet, meeting the FCC 25 Mbps download speed metric, to rural America…. not just to “make it available.”  Spend some of that Infrastructure money on true infrastructure.

· Paid for by The Committee to Elect Rick Hillenbrand ·
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