A proposal by the U.S. Treasury to allow pandemic relief funds to be spent on improving high-speed broadband service to rural, underserved areas receives our support, as this could help even the playing field for many in our region who currently have little to no access to high-speed broadband.
Rural areas like ours have for too long been bypassed when it comes to meaningful broadband investment.
Sure, cities and urban areas need broadband — reliable broadband. But people living in rural areas continue to suffer without it.
Drive five to 10 minutes in certain directions out of Harrisonburg and you will find homes and business that have minimal internet service — if any — and even struggle to get dependable cell service.
Yes, perhaps some don’t care.
But the way things are going — like it or not — more services and amenities in life are coming by way of the internet.
The industry has and continues to slowly convince us all that we cannot live without internet service.
Appliances, security systems and doors, phones, medical devices, refrigerators, baby monitors, vehicles, thermostats, televisions … need we continue?
Why should people who “live in the woods” or “out on the ridge” not have dependable access while cities and urban areas see their internet infrastructure improved?
Give all people a choice.
If the U.S. Treasury goes forward with its rule as originally written, sparsely populated areas currently lacking broadband could leapfrog certain urban areas in their internet speeds.
Investment in cities and urban areas certainly won’t stop.
But rural areas deserve more attention — more investment — than they’re getting. This would help areas such as ours to see potential economic growth and provide a pathway to the future.