Broadband in Five Years
Tuesday, May 3, 2022
Broadband in Five Years
House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-SC) joined Glen Echo Group CEO Maura Corbett for a conversation at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society’s 40th Anniversary celebration. In the wake of the unprecedented investment in broadband included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Corbett asked Clyburn where he thinks we’ll be in five years.
“Oh, in five years,” Clyburn answered, “I think this is going to be a successful venture.”
Representative Clyburn said attention now turns to states, like his home, South Carolina. Clyburn got a call from Governor Henry McMaster (R-SC) who said, “I'm getting ready to do the State of the State address and I'm going to be asking for a significant amount of dollars for your broadband program."
“That's the way he said it. And he did. And he had already done a lot. And when we passed the infrastructure bill, he says, ‘Every residence, every business in this state, we are going to have connected in 3 to 4 years.’”
Governor McMaster was the very first governor in the country to endorse Donald Trump. And Representative Clyburn is known for his influential endorsement of President Biden during the 2020 primaries. But the two see eye-to-eye on broadband.
“Now, that's because, along the way, I was able to appeal to him on a personal level. Get him to see how he could keep his schools open. Explain to him what Covid-19 had really done and how we could get testing done if we had the internet spread throughout rural South Carolina. Not talking to him about what a good thing this was—but I said to him, as I said to a lot of people, if you look at what made the big difference in Rural America in the 20th century, it was electricity.
“It was electricity. And I shared with the Governor a little testimony that came from a Tennessee church when a farmer went to church one night and he said, ‘Brothers and sisters let me tell you something. The greatest thing on Earth is to have the love of God in your heart. But the next greatest thing, is to have electricity in your house.’ That's what that farmer said in church. That was his testimony. And I shared with the Governor and others: The next greatest thing, in my opinion, is to have the internet in every home.
“And when you can show people the benefit... It was laborious, time-consuming, but it was not hard. The moment people saw what it would do, to change the lives of people in their communities. And that's just what we have to do. And you can do that."
Additional Content from the Celebration
The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all people in the U.S. have access to competitive, High-Performance Broadband regardless of where they live or who they are. We believe communication policy - rooted in the values of access, equity, and diversity - has the power to deliver new opportunities and strengthen communities.
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