VACo has drafted a resolution to be considered at the National Association of Counties Annual Conference in July. Sponsored by Dinwiddie County Supervisor Harrison Moody, the resolution focuses on jumpstarting rural broadband P3s across the country by making the Rural Utility Service funds more accessible. Specifically, the resolution urges Congress to dedicate funding for broadband, make funding more accessible to cooperatives, and streamline the application process.
Across the nation, rural localities still lack access to affordable and quality high-speed Internet. Broadband deployment should mirror the electrification of rural America. Utilizing federal Rural Electrification Administration loans, cooperatives built distribution networks for electricity to be purchased from utilities to be resold to members.
Within a five-year period, 50 percent of rural America had access to electricity and 10 years later virtually all were on the grid. Efforts to expand broadband into rural areas have lagged due to the cost of the telecommunications provider and a lack of subscribership due to small and sprawled rural populations.
Currently, at least 25 million Americans still lack access to high-speed Internet. In the 21st century, connectivity is vital for economic development, education, emergency services, health care, and more. Recognizing this, localities and cooperatives are partnering in public-private partnerships to bring the Internet to rural America.
VACo Contact: Khaki LaRiviere