Rebuild Rural Coalition testifies at House hearing – broadband as important as other infrastructure

The Farm Credit reports on Witnesses representing the Rebuild Rural Coalition (RRC) testimony today before the House Agriculture Committee at the hearing on rural infrastructure. Broadband and cooperatives feature highly…

“Over the last decade, I have witnessed an alarming decline in historical competitive advantage that our transportation infrastructure has provided U.S. agriculture, and the corresponding increase in investment in critical infrastructure being made by our foreign competitors,” said Rick Calhoun, immediate past chairman of the National Grain and Feed Association’s Waterborne Commerce Committee. “We welcome the critically needed renewed sense of urgency by this Congress and the Trump administration to enact an infrastructure package that includes a reliable funding mechanism to renovate our dilapidated inland waterways system, as well as to restore our rural roads and bridges. Both are essential to the future vibrancy of rural communities and competitiveness of U.S. agriculture.”

“A robust communications infrastructure is just as important to our business as our traditional assets like poles, wires and power plants,” said Curtis Wynn, President and CEO of Roanoke Electric Cooperative. “My co-op is investing $4 million to lay a fiber communications “backbone” in our service territory. Once this foundation is in place, there are many things we can do with it. One option could be providing broadband internet to our consumers’ homes. Many people in our region don’t have access to reliable internet. That puts our consumers, schools, hospitals and employers at a disadvantage. Addressing the infrastructure challenges facing rural America requires many different types of technologies, partnerships and engagement from all stakeholders. A separate infrastructure package will give co-ops a great opportunity to make investments to ensure the success and stability of rural America.”

“Robust broadband infrastructure is critical to the current and future success of rural America,” said Jennifer Otwell, General Manager of Totelcom Communications, LLC. “But the very characteristics that enable the unique beauty and enterprise of rural America also make it very expensive to deploy and sustain advanced communications services there. Our industry is excited to participate in this conversation regarding infrastructure initiatives, and we look forward to working with policymakers and other stakeholders on a comprehensive infrastructure strategy to ensure that all Americans will experience the numerous benefits of broadband.”

This entry was posted in Policy, Rural by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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