WASHINGTON, July 13, 2016 - The Senate Broadband Caucus launched on Tuesday afternoon on Capitol Hill with a focus on the need to ensure that all parts of the United States have access to good-quality broadband.
Led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V., and joined by Sen. Angus King, D-Maine, Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and John Boozman, R-Ark., each of the senators spoke at the launch and touted the need to ensure that broadband is available and well-used by residents of rural as well as urban areas.
In the release announcing the launch of the caucus, the five senators declared:
Broadband is critical to the viability of our economy and the future of American ingenuity and entrepreneurship. It has become the very foundation for invention and a necessary backbone that communities - both urban and rural - across the country need to succeed. Broadband access will also maximize children's educational opportunities at school and at home, modernize our healthcare system with telehealth, and help educate those who aspire to gain access to new skills to compete in the 21st century workforce.
The economic benefits of broadband infrastructure are clear. For every $5 billion invested in broadband infrastructure, 250,000 jobs are created and with every percentage point increase in new broadband distribution, employment expands by 300,000. A recent study found that after each megabit per second increase in internet speeds, the unemployment rate dropped by 0.08 percent, the bachelor's degree rate increased by 0.42 percent, and the median household income increased by $570.
In rural areas, where broadband serves to bridge geographic barriers, these benefits are particularly important. Not only is broadband an economic development tool for businesses that may be isolated from potential customer and employees, but it broadens educational horizons for students and offers healthcare providers flexible and cost-effective care-delivery approaches. Businesses, students and patients are taking advantage of these connectivity-enabled opportunities, which have been facilitated by innovative tools in videoconferencing, distance learning, in-home health monitoring, and telemedicine, among other areas. Federal policymakers have an important role to play in facilitating these advances and broadening their reach, so that rural Americans can leverage them to improve their lives.
We at the Rural Telecommunications Congress look forward to following and working with the Senate Broadband Caucus as it rolls out its activities in the fall!