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Rural internet upgrades may be on the way

Maggie Gilles, Kansas Dairy Farmer

January 25, 2021

“I don’t think there’s any debate that improving broadband access in rural areas is both necessary and worthy. That’s just not a question,” said Cornell’s Andy Novakovic in response to a question posed during the January 20 Hoard’s Dairyman DairyLivestream.

That question was what impact might President Biden’s desire to spend $20 billion on broadband across the board have on rural internet access? While a worthy cause, Novakovic remains concerned that the funding might not be available or adequate for a project of the required magnitude.

Speaking specifically to past pilot projects, Novakovic had this to say about rural broadband, “It demonstrated that, if you spent enough money, you can create the infrastructure in rural areas. But it also made it very clear that if you are going to scale this up to the United States of America, it’s going to cost a pretty penny,” he shared.

Many paths forward “So, the question is always how do we get started and what do we do?” Novakovic posed the rhetorical question. Some options exist for co-ops, technology, and satellite connection. It’s expected that one of these options will develop into full, rural broadband access.

“You have this racing intersection between what we can do technologically and how much it costs,” he elaborated. “It’s going to be a bit of a struggle, but I believe that there’s a lot more political will.”

That political will is expected to come from both of the House of Representative Ag Committee leaders, David Scott (D-GA) and Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA). Further, it’s anticipated that Tom Vilsack, who has been selected but not yet confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, also will support greater broadband access.



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