Closing the digital divide is critical for the vitality of rural America

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In my role as House Communications Subcommittee Ranking Member, addressing the “digital divide” has been one of my top priorities. In order to address areas that have unreliable broadband, we need to accurately know where those locations are. The current maps used to allocate resources are woefully inaccurate and result in overbuilding in some areas while other areas remain unserved or underserved. As we aim to utilize spectrum more efficiently, leading to the repurposing and sale of valuable airwaves, we should be using at least some of this revenue to close the technology gap that exists between rural and urban areas.

Having high-tech operations and capabilities in our rural areas is worth the investment if they can access reliable broadband. If they don’t, farmers won’t invest in connected equipment and devices. Last Congress, I authored the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump as part of the Farm Bill. This law created a task force bringing the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) together to help farmers access high-speed broadband and precision agriculture technology.

It’s time to truly close the gap on America’s “digital divide” because leaving Americans behind as we sprint towards a more connected tomorrow isn’t an option.

[Ranking Member Latta is co-chair of Congressional Rural Broadband Caucus.]

Closing the digital divide is critical for the vitality of rural America