Campaigning in Las Vegas, Senator Amy Klobuchar discusses how she would fight to expand broadband internet access. She speaks about the need of partnerships and flexibility in planning ubiquitous broadband and reminds the crowd that she used to be a telecom lawyer. She talks about how to insure that big telecom doesn’t come in to prevent local government from building or running public networks. And she gives a nice nod to the work of the Blandin Foundation…
It is a combination responsibility. In another life, I did Telcom law in the. Private sector for years I represented MCI when they were trying to bust into the local and long-distance markets and create more competition which helped to bring those rates down. That experience helps me to get this. I also serve on the commerce committee. I plan is to get this done by 2022.
There is every reason to think we can do that, connect every area of the country, not to dial up slow speed, but actual high-speed internet. The way you pay for it is the combination of things. Part of the infrastructure plan I just mentioned, but two, some of the money can come from the universal service fund which is traditionally used for underserved areas. Whether it be impoverished areas, rural areas, and you want to pay for local service. Some of that money can go to broadband as well.
One of the problems that i have identified spending a lot of time in rural areas and meeting with people in small telephone companies is sometimes that money is going to carriers that are not using it. Particularly some of the bigger carriers or midsize ones that are not using it to build out. You have this crazy patchwork situation where one town in one area will have high-speed internet, and the other wand.
I remember being in a tribal area in Minnesota where one of the houses had decided to pay for high-speed internet, which was very expensive because they did not have it on the reservation. And all of these kids every day would go to the guys yard to do their homework. Or the doctor who would — who could get internet in the hospital, but he can’t get it at home and you have emergency calls. He would have to, if he wanted to bring up an x-ray or look at other things, he had to go to the McDonald’s parking lot or the farmer, and farming has become increasingly high-tech with the machinery and the like, who wants to contact customers has to go to — drive miles to go to a target. That is what is happening.
I think the answer is a combination of things like everything else if you are realistic. It is getting the direct funding through this infrastructure package. The funding for internet goes through the USDA, as well as the commerce to mark — commerce department. . There are local government owned situations in the rural areas.
One of them, the Blandin foundation in Minnesota has spent a lot of time working on this. I don’t think it is one-size-fits-all. The key is to make sure the money is not going to phone companies that are not using it. A senator and i, the republican from South Dakota, had done work on this to try to get people with standalone internet — cell phone service to get better internet service. A bunch of things we could do.
You have to have a president step back, look at these programs, and figure out that it is literally mapping exactly so that we have accurate data about where it is and where it isn’t. And then we get the resources to where they are supposed to go.