Senators to Trump: Put broadband development in infrastructure bill

WASHINGTON —A bipartisan group of 48 senators urged new Republican President Donald Trump to include nationwide development of broadband networks and access to them in any infrastructure legislation he sends to Capitol Hill.

Their letter reminds Trump, whose infrastructure concentration has been on traditional projects such as roadbuilding and airports, that broadband and access to the Internet is just as vital to underserved people as bad roads and spotty transportation alternatives.

The Communications Workers, for whom broadband expansion is a top cause, first reported the letter – and pointed out that it can be part of a bipartisan infrastructure bill. Trump’s plans envision federal boosts to private infrastructure investment.

The senators who co-chair a broadband caucus – Amy Klobuchar, DFL-Minn., Angus King, Ind.-Maine, Shelley Moore Capito, R-W. Va., Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and John Boozman, R-Ark. – said “expanding access to broadband, both rural and urban, is the infrastructure challenge of our generation and we cannot afford to wait to make progress on this important goal.”

For both large and small firms, “broadband access is not a luxury, it is a necessity. The internet expands opportunities for commerce and strengthens our economy,” they added.

But firms and their workers won’t benefit unless broadband speeds and connections are fast, reliable and affordable.

The senators told Trump that every $5 billion invested in broadband infrastructure produces 250,000 new jobs and that such investments “will jumpstart growth in jobs and wages.” In addition, “The internet has changed the way businesses reach their customers and workers do their jobs,” they said, increasing efficiency and productivity. that will jumpstart growth in jobs and wages.

The senators also emphasized broadband must reach rural and hard-to-reach areas, which CWA says is a frequent problem. Heitkamp and Boozman are from heavily rural states. Capito and King hail from states with hard-to-reach areas: West Virginia’s mountains and hollows and Maine’s backwoods.  Minnesota also has large rural stretches.

Source: PAI