Cantwell, Murray Call on Trump to Invest in Critical Broadband Infrastructure
Senators: All Americans need access to high-speed internet to spur economic growth
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) sent a letter to President Trump, urging him to invest in critical broadband infrastructure and expand high-speed, reliable access to Americans in all communities. They stressed the importance of closing the broadband gap to spur economic growth in all communities, noting that high-speed internet is a prerequisite for economic inclusion and those without access are unfairly disadvantaged.
40 percent of Americans in rural areas and 68 percent of Americans on tribal lands do not have access to high-speed internet. Over 200,000 Washingtonians lack access to FCC standard broadband. More than 400,000 people in Washington have access to only one provider, leaving them no options to switch.
“Expanding access to broadband, both rural and urban, is the infrastructure challenge of our generation,” the senators wrote. “Broadband access is not a luxury, it is a necessity. The internet expands opportunities for commerce and strengthens our economy.”
The letter specifically calls for improvements to broadband connections in locations where deployment of broadband has been difficult due to economic conditions or geography. The senators also encouraged improving the affordability and quality of existing connections.
“A broad agenda to promote broadband access will empower Americans living in every community with economic opportunities that will jumpstart growth in jobs and wages,” the letter said.
Access to high-quality broadband is accompanied by economic and quality-of-life benefits that ripple throughout communities. For every percentage point increase in new broadband distribution, employment expands by 300,000.
For years, Senators Cantwell and Murray supported the expansion of broadband access to unserved and underserved communities. In 2010, as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) — which provided $40 million in federal grants for expanding access to high-speed, affordable broadband to underserved rural areas — the senators helped secure funding for broadband projects for over 35,000 people and 1,400 businesses in Washington state. Later that year, they contributed to the dedication of $84.3 million in federal stimulus funds for the Northwest Open Access Network to build more fiber optic networks in rural Washington state.
More recently, Cantwell and Murray have called on the FCC to carry out broadband reforms and improve internet access in tribal and rural communities. Last week, they joined Senate Democrats in announcing an infrastructure blueprint that would dedicate $20 billion to improving broadband quality and access in rural and underserved communities.
Full text of the letter below.
January 31, 2017
President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
As you work with Congress to address the infrastructure needs of our country, we urge you to prioritize policies as part of any infrastructure initiative that will promote deployment of high-speed, reliable broadband for all Americans. Expanding access to broadband, both rural and urban, is the infrastructure challenge of our generation and we cannot afford to wait to make progress on this important goal.
The internet has changed the way businesses reach their customers and workers do their jobs. From large companies that employ thousands to small businesses on Main Street, broadband access is not a luxury, it is a necessity. The internet expands opportunities for commerce and strengthens our economy. A broad agenda to promote broadband access will empower Americans living in every community – from urban city centers to rural towns – with economic opportunities that will jumpstart growth in jobs and wages. In fact, for every $5 billion invested in broadband infrastructure, 250,000 jobs are created and with every percentage point increase in new broadband distribution, employment expands by 300,000.
These benefits can only be fully realized when connections are fast, reliable, and affordable. That is why improving broadband access must be a priority in the 115th Congress and broadband must be part of any discussions regarding infrastructure investments to meet the demands of the 21st century economy. In addition, policies that reduce barriers to investment in communications infrastructure and streamline the deployment process will play a key role in expanding economic growth.
In order to maintain the United States’ position as a global leader for innovation, we must invest to expand our broadband infrastructure. This effort should include bringing broadband connections to locations where economic conditions or geography have made deployment difficult and improving the quality and affordability of existing broadband connections.
We look forward to working with you to expand broadband access to all Americans.
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