Request Line: (870) 277-1080 [email protected]
Text Your Gift to KLEK1 to 44-321 LEARN MORE

Your Community Radio Station is possible thanks to this supporter!  Become an underwriter.

Building on Momentum Behind Broadband Deployment

Written by Press Release

March 29, 2021

The urgency for expanded broadband deployment is unmistakable. High-speed internet has become a necessity that has kept Arkansans connected throughout the COVID-19 emergency. Telework, distance learning and expanded telehealth opportunities exposed the pronounced need communities in Arkansas and across the country have for reliable broadband services. As co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus, I’m working to build on this momentum.

Last year, Congress delivered millions of dollars to help close the digital divide. We approved funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect Program. Money from this initiative has been invested in Arkansas to support high-speed broadband infrastructure in Baxter, Marion, Stone, Pope and Van Buren counties.

We created a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) telehealth pilot program in the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that offers grants for health care providers so they can purchase equipment to help continue serving the needs of patients through telehealth services. 

Telehealth has been critical for Arkansans to safely continue receiving medical care without having to make a trip to the doctor’s office. Many providers, especially in rural areas don’t have the tools and resources to expand their connectivity capacity, so this money has made a real difference in keeping folks healthy during COVID-19.

I recently spoke with a Bentonville resident who shared with me that expanded telehealth opportunities have opened doors to get her brother the help he needs by connecting him with a medical specialist across the country. Now we must ensure that all patients continue to have access to this care delivery system. Broadband deployment is an important first step in that process. We cannot allow connectivity issues to come between a patient and effective care. Telehealth will continue to play an increasingly important role in the future of health care delivery.

One of the long-standing and well-known problems with broadband deployment is the lack of reliable broadband coverage maps. We must ensure that our most rural and underserved communities are accurately represented in the data because this information helps determine where we need to focus investments. Knowing where connectivity is lacking will allow us to target dollars and resources to the places that need it most. 

Congress has recently taken steps to ensure broadband mapping is more precise like approving funding for the FCC to create better broadband maps. This is a key component to closing the digital divide. 

Reliable broadband services will also help our farmers and ranchers improve their yields with advances in precision agriculture. This technology provides producers with information that enables them to increase efficiency and productivity.

As the USDA works to build out networks for some of our most rural communities across the country, I’m pushing the agency to collaborate with the FCC in order to avoid overbuilding in any one area. It’s important that resources deployed to build out networks are used effectively and logically. 

I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Senate Broadband Caucus to advocate policies that expand access to high-speed internet. That’s the message I recently shared at a caucus event to discuss 2021 priorities, because while we’ve made progress, we know there are still many Arkansans in need of this technology to help them live, work and learn in the 21st century.

Original article source: https://www.boozman.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2021/3/building-on-momentum-behind-broadband-deployment | Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council

0 0 vote
Article Rating

Related Articles

Delivering a Lifeline to Small Businesses

Congress took aggressive action last year to respond to the public health and economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In a matter of days, Republicans and Democrats came together Read more

Targeting Investments to Help Water Infrastructure

Water infrastructure plays a critical role in supporting the agriculture industry, providing protection from floods and increasing access to clean drinking water in communities across Arkansas. Water and wastewater systems Read more

Vaccinating Arkansans Against COVID-19

One year after COVID-19 was first identified within the United States and our states and cities were forced to dramatically restrict routine activities, we are now all much more aware Read more

The path forward is to work together

Congress passed five bipartisan COVID-19 bills last year to help Arkansas families, small businesses and health care providers as we were facing unprecedented times during the coronavirus pandemic. Republicans and Read more

Comments

Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Your Community Radio Station is possible thanks to this supporter!  Become an underwriter.

Pin It on Pinterest