Lawmakers are seeking funding to expand rural broadband access across rural America and to ensure equal educational and economic opportunities in rural communities. Led by Illinois Republican Rodney Davis and Virginia Democrat Abigail Spanberger, a bipartisan letter sent to key House Appropriations Committee members ask them to boost funding for rural broadband internet infrastructure. According to the Federal Communications Commission’s 2018 Broadband Deployment Report, more than 30 percent of Americans in rural areas lack access to fixed terrestrial broadband at speeds of 25 Mbps/3 Mbps—compared to only two percent of Americans in urban areas. The Davis and Spanberger-letter calls for the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies to provide $550 million for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect Program. Additionally, the letter requests $350 million for the rural broadband loan and grant program—an amount authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill. This funding would represent an overall increase of $350 million in rural broadband development funding from fiscal year 2019.
From the National Association of Farm Broadcasting.