We were lucky enough to have several policy makers join us last week at the 2015 Broadband Conference. It’s always interesting and often inspiring to hear them address the crowd at the event. In the case of Representative Nolan’s it’s equally fun to see what he had to say about the event after the fact in a recent e-newsletter…
Special thanks to Dr. Kathleen Annette, President and CEO of the Blandin Foundation, for her hard work on this important issue.
We took our campaign to wire rural America for high-speed broadband to a friendly audience on Friday – helping the Blandin Foundation cap a week-long conference that brought some of the state’s best minds together in Minneapolis to help free thousands of Minnesotans from dial-up Internet – and connect them to 21st Century communications.
Explaining my Rural Broadband Initiative Act to consolidate hundreds of millions of dollars in rural broadband programs under a single federal office and develop a national strategy to connect the countryside, I pointed out that 22 million people across rural America are still living in the dark ages of high technology. That means trouble for small communities struggling to compete, attract new people, create good jobs, expand educational opportunities and advance local health care.
We need the same kind of big thinking on rural broadband that Franklin Roosevelt used to establish the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) and the Rural Telephone Administration (RTA) in the 1930’s. When Roosevelt established the REA in 1935, about 1 in 10 rural homes had electricity. By 1953, it was 9 out of 10. In 1949, when the RTA started making loans for rural telephone service, only about 1 in 3 homes had telephones. By 1975, it was 9 out of 10. President Roosevelt and his generation passed rural electricity and telephone service on to us. We need to pay that legacy forward by passing 21st Century high speed broadband on to future generations of people who will live, work and do business across rural America.