Lawmakers Hold Hearing on Improving Broadband Access in Rural Areas
The U.S. House Agricultural Committee's subcommittee on Livestock, Rural Development, and Credit, recently held a hearing to examine ways to improve and expand broadband in rural areas and to coordinate future investments between the U.S. Department of Agriculture ("USDA") and the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC").
The 2014 Farm Bill ensures funding for Rural Utilities Service ("RUS") broadband programs targeted at rural areas and sets a minimum acceptable speed for broadband service. However, in 2012, 14.5 million people in 6.5 million rural households lacked access to broadband. It will require an estimated $13.4 billion to complete access projects. Improving access to broadband service is especially critical for farmers as technological advances expand farming capabilities.
Members of the Subcommittee discussed how efforts between the USDA and FCC can be better coordinated so that rural communities have greater access to broadband services. This will likely be the first of many discussions about how to increase broadband access in rural America.