Inslee, Brown call on Congress to invest in broadband infrastructure

Govs. Kate Brown and Jay Inslee joined a group of 11 governors from across the country calling on the president and congressional leadership to invest in broadband connectivity to assist the roughly 18 million Americans who lack access to internet. In a joint letter sent Thursday, the state leaders described broadband as critical infrastructure, particularly in the time of COVID-19.

“As COVID-19 continues to impact both urban and rural communities, we are gravely concerned about the compromised digital access that now threatens entire communities, and people’s livelihoods, educational access, quality of healthcare and lives. Our rural communities are particularly less prepared to mitigate the pandemic itself and adapt to what will certainly be a different world in a post-COVID economy, in large part because of the lack of access to broadband,” reads the letter.

 

 

A recent report referenced in the letter estimates it will cost $130 billion to $150 billion over the course of 5 to 7 years to “adequately support rural coverage and 5G wireless densification.” This investment, state the governors, will promote job growth, unleash economy potential, and ensure participation in the digital economy.

“This investment will unlock the potential of a new generation of technologies for healthcare advancement, ensure that school children across America have access to the best educational tools, foster new ways of doing business, stimulate the advancement of agricultural and food production technologies and give states and communities the opportunities to capitalize on smart infrastructure deployment,” they write.

The leaders conclude the letter by calling on Congress to pass a package that provides digital access to all Americans, calling it the “Rural Electrification Act of our generation.”