As my late, beloved Grandfather used to say often to me, "don't bring me problems, bring me solutions." There has been quiet a bit of complaining lately, around here at Yours Rurally, about the heartbreaking and infuriating statistics as related to the digital divide in this country. Over 40 million Americans lack access to high speed internet today, in the year 2020, and the overwhelming majority of those without access live in rural areas. To say that this is a shame is a gross understatement.
The implications have been long-felt. The problem and related challenges are not new. The impact, however, has been downright damning in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. The stories of being digitally unconnected and the resulting day-to-day pain are aplenty. Fortunately, (some) in decision-making positions are starting to pay attention to this issue and (piecemeal) solutions are finally gaining traction. But the emphasis must be placed on expediency - unserved rural Americans desperately need internet access for remote work, remote schooling and for telehealth reasons and they need that access NOW.
THE RURAL BROADBAND ACCELERATION ACT
Both the US Senate and US House of Representatives have introduced the "Rural Broadband Acceleration Act." If enacted, this bipartisan bill will enhance efforts to expand access to rural broadband across the nation, in an expedited fashion. If passed, the bill will speed up (!!) the distribution of the Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) - which is $20.4 billion over 10 years. The first phase of fund distribution, which would begin ahead of schedule, will target unserved areas and the second phase will target underserved areas. The bill will also ensure that rural access is comparable in both price and speed as in urban areas.
"Our bipartisan legislation will fund hundreds of rural broadband construction projects immediately. Rural America cannot afford to wait another day.”
- Congressman James Clyburn (D-SC) introduced the house version of the bill
CONTACT YOUR SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVE
Click here to find or confirm your congressional representative. Call and request their support for the "Rural Broadband Acceleration Act." If your family, friends, students or community members have experienced hardship during this pandemic because of the lack of internet access, share the story during the call. See below for a script to guide the conversation. As a former Capitol Hill staffer, I can state with certainty that these calls and our collective voices can make a difference.
Hi. My name is [NAME] and I am calling from [CITY, STATE]. As your constituent, I am calling today to ask that you support the "Rural Broadband Acceleration Act."
Rural Americans throughout our state need internet access and they need it now. As I am sure you can imagine, the lack of internet access is a challenge during normal times. The Covid-19 pandemic has made life even more challenging for those without access. Without this legislation many rural Americans are unable to work remotely, use critical telehealth services or attend virtual classrooms. For example, [PERSONAL EXPERIENCE or PERSONAL STORY].
The "Rural Broadband Acceleration Act" will speed up the distribution of the Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) - which is $20.4 billion over 10 years. This is an important and necessary step in the right direction in getting rural Americans connected immediately.
I consider this a high-priority and timely issue, especially given the current Covid pandemic. As your constituent, I urge you to consider co-sponsoring and fully supporting the bipartisan "Rural Broadband Acceleration Act.'
Thank you for taking my call.
Note: If your Senator or Representative is already listed as a bill cosponsor, call and thank them for their support of this important legislation. Current House cosponsors are listed here. Current Senate cosponsors are listed here.
Please email us at hello@YoursRurally.com if you have any questions or need additional information as you prepare to call your Senators and Representative.