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Senator Blunt says expansion of high-speed broadband essential to rural Missouri growth

Published by SJ Post on April 26th, 2019

By Brent Martin 

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt wants Congress to tackle expanding broadband access, especially to rural America.

Blunt says high-speed Internet access can no longer be considered a luxury.

“High-speed broadband, I believe, is as important today as the telephone was seven decades ago and we need to make the same kind of commitment to be sure that everybody has a chance to have the information that comes with that high-speed broadband,” Blunt tells reporters during a recent visit to St. Joseph. “That’s everything from doing your homework; there’s no reason a kid who lives two miles from school should be disadvantaged from a kid who lives right next to the school.”

Blunt says broadband access is vital to tele-medicine, precision agriculture, and interacting with the world-wide economy.

Blunt says Missouri is behind the curve.

“And Missouri’s a little bit behind,” according to Blunt. “There aren’t many things like that that we’re behind on, but we are behind the average rural American in terms of access to rural broadband and it needs to be an absolute commitment, again, just like the telephone was seven decades ago.”

Blunt points out Congress imposed a universal service fee on telephones to ensure that everyone could have access to a phone.

The Delta Regional Authority recently announced it will invest $1 million to help build a fiber network in eight counties in southeastern Missouri to reach more than 11,000 residents as well as businesses and farms in the region.

Federal money also has been allocated to expand high-speed broadband in rural America. Congress has allocated $600 million for a new rural broadband pilot grant and loan program. The Federal Communications Commission has $2 billion available for rural broadband.

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