Opinion: Stumpin’ for Rural Broadband

In 1936, deep in the throes of the Great Depression, the federal government moved forward with an initiative that would eventually modernize every home in rural America: the Rural Electrification Act (REA).

Driven by the federal government, money began to flow to local electric cooperatives. Teams of electricians went about the task of hooking up millions of homes and businesses to provide access to this magical tool.

As I sit here, staring out the window of my suburban Cleveland office building, enjoying every megabit of bandwidth our server can muster, I say with full professional and personal conviction that we need to create and fund an REA for broadband.

I realize there are complicating circumstances, with private entities owning and developing so much of the technology. But leadership and priority carry a lot of weight.

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) held a session at the Commodity Classic trade show that was dedicated to this topic. The group has made rural broadband a big focus within its Infrastructure 2050 initiative.

It certainly is en vogue to suggest that the government is not capable of doing anything well, but this, to me, is an exception. The leadership of such an initiative can only work from a determined, driven core.

Consider contacting your member of Congress to co-sponsor and pass the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018, which AEM, in conjunction with member companies and the Agriculture Broadband Coalition, has been working to advance on Capitol Hill.

There are at least 10 good reasons I can think of to get behind this legislation … and none of them involves Netflix.

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