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Democrats Call for Broadband in Remote Areas

Say Swifter Internet Key to Small Business Growth
Democrats on the House Small Business Committee this week pressed for answers on what can be done to accelerate wider adoption of broadband in rural and lower income areas. In a hearing today before the panel’s Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade, Democrats called for a sustained push to address gaps in broadband access to support small business growth and development.
“Even though broadband subscriptions have progressively increased, rural and low-income community access is being outpaced by the rest of the country due to a lack of network deployment,” said Subcommittee Ranking Member Brad Schneider (D-IL). “In today’s economy, reliable, high speed Internet is a basic building block for most small businesses.” 
As a powerful tool for empowering both consumers and entrepreneurs, the Internet serves small businesses in a multitude of ways. From the start-up venture that relies on their website to spread the word of their product to the small telecommunications service provider, Democrats stressed the importance of reliable access. 
The Internet has enabled not only the creation of new technologies but has driven the economy in countless ways. In 2016 alone, $10.4 million jobs in all fifty states were created due to the Internet. These jobs contributed to 6 percent of the total U.S. GDP adding up to $1.2 trillion. Despite the overwhelming advances and rewards, 34 million Americans still lack access to high-speed Internet. Of these Americans, nearly 4 out of 10 live in rural communities. 
“It has become apparent that the need for access to high speed broadband service is no less important for the success and survival of rural areas today than electricity was more than 75 years ago,” said Christopher Allendorf, Vice President of External Relations and General Counsel at Jo-Carroll Energy, Inc. “Can you imagine large swathes of the inhabited U.S. without electricity today? We have to ask ourselves the same question now about rural areas without broadband access.”
During the hearing, Schneider noted that potential infrastructure legislation could provide a window of opportunity to better meet the nation’s broadband needs.   
“With a wider infrastructure package being discussed on both sides of the aisle, we may have a chance to upgrade America’s digital blueprint,” Schneider concluded. “We must harness the potential of robust technologies to create economic opportunity in every small town and hamlet throughout the country.” 
Democrats pledged during the hearing to follow up on the issue and press for policy reforms to accelerate further broadband rollout. 
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