Rural Broadband Access
Opportunities in Rural America by Rep. Henry Cuellar
In America, we pride ourselves on being competitive and leading the world in every endeavor we undertake. As technology continues to progress, it is vital that America and Texas not only keep pace but lead the way in technological advancement and access. Right now, America ranks 21st in the world at providing digital opportunities to the public. Moreover, 76 percent of small businesses in rural areas are reporting limited or no access to broadband services. We need to upgrade our nation’s communications networks in rural areas to provide broadband functionality everywhere.
As we increase advanced communications services, our children will be able to integrate these tools into their lives. When we have an emerging workforce that is trained in the latest technology, Texas can be competitive in the national and world markets—and our rural communities and small businesses can continue to grow and thrive.
Finally, in times of crisis, communications services play a vital role in conveying messages to the public and securing the safety of each and every individual. As we sadly witnessed after Hurricane Katrina, communication is crucial to citizens and our emergency responders. By increasing access to advanced technology in rural communities, we can take pride and comfort in knowing that everyone will receive the assistance and services they need in the wake of a natural disaster. Just recently, a tornado struck South Texas, highlighting the need for the people of rural communities to have the most complete access to emergency communications and services possible.
Increased access to broadband technology has the potential to greatly improve the quality of life and economic growth in rural communities. In small communities, it is hard to train workers without the most updated technology, making it difficult for small businesses to retain a qualified and competitive workforce. As the next generation enters this workforce, it is imperative for the economic health of our rural communities that they can be successful in the small communities they grew up in. By increasing rural broadband access, we can usher in a new generation of opportunity for the nation’s small communities.