October 12, 2017
Startups aren’t easy to launch, whether it’s thinking up a great product or service, hiring the right talent or coming up with funding.
The last thing that should be a problem is access to broadband internet, but in some rural parts of the U.S. there isn’t enough service. Innovation can take place anywhere — in Silicon Valley, Pittsburgh or Indianapolis — but only if there’s sufficient broadband access to connect entrepreneurs with other companies, suppliers or customers.
While a majority of the U.S. population has access to multiple broadband internet service options, 34 million Americans in mostly rural areas that are expensive to reach lack access to high-speed service. Since two-thirds of all rural jobs are created by small businesses which use e-commerce services to expand, grow and hire, there’s a whole segment of the population that risks being left out of the internet revolution.
The hope of tech-industry optimists like former AOL chief and Revolution LLC founder Steve Case is the spread of tech into the heartland. Digital technology jobs pay about 50 percent more than average private sector jobs, according to one White House study, which means bringing more tech jobs to rural America could be transformative. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has made closing the so-called “digital divide” a key priority and is considering how the agency can better encourage more investment in broadband networks across the country.
Restoring internet freedom will help ensure access to an open, thriving online ecosystem which is critical for every American — especially those in rural areas who need broadband internet to connect to our rapidly evolving economy.
With open internet protections that remove cumbersome regulatory burdens and encourage network investment from coast to coast, America’s Heartland can become a vibrant tech hub…move over Silicon Valley.
Broadband providers, the companies which bring the internet to communities big and small, have invested more than $70 billion per year in U.S. networks, and we’re seeing results: broadband in rural homes is up 117 percent in the last 10 years.
Now it’s Washington’s turn to ensure those living in rural communities have full access to all of the opportunities that broadband builds. Policymakers and service providers have a tremendous opportunity to collaborate and close the digital divide ensuring all Americans reap the benefits of our modern digital economy — no matter where we live.