Better Broadband Connectivity Will Boost the Rural Economy


Recently, Germany auctioned off segments of the broadband spectrum for the testing of a 5G network, bringing with it the potential for rapid development and adoption of new technology—everything from hyper-fast downloads to self-driving cars. Imagine then the frustration for millions of rural Americans still stuck with broadband speeds a decade or more behind, or who lack the ability even to connect their homes and businesses to the internet.

Broadband connectivity in many rural parts of the United States, including my home district in Central Virginia, lags far behind their urban and suburban counterparts. It limits the ability of our farmers to see the full benefit of precision agriculture tools, it holds our students back from reaching their full potential, and it keeps our businesses from selling to customers around the world.

Our farmers and ranchers constantly evolve and adapt to the conditions surrounding them, and if provided better and faster connectivity, the development of new technologies on the farm will rival any other sector. Autonomous tractor technology is already on display at farm shows. Farmers are already integrating UAVs to increase their ability to detect and address pest, disease, drought stress and weather damage. And industry is exploring the ability of blockchain to advance traceability of food products throughout the supply chain so when a food safety outbreak occurs, it can be more rapidly and accurately traced back to its source.

Rural communities and our nation’s economy also stand to benefit from broadband expansion. Rural schools can expand the quantity and quality of educational programming. Rural communities can attract businesses and investment. Rural businesses can access valuable resources, including a younger workforce that expects connectivity where they live and work. Rural hospitals can enhance the quality of care offered to patients no matter where they live. And faster broadband can reliably connect people to good-paying remote jobs, which helps to keep them in rural communities, rather than continuing the flight to larger towns in search of employment.

The 2018 Farm Bill strengthens USDA’s authority on rural broadband to ensure access is improved for folks in rural America, and the Appropriations Committee provided nearly a billion dollars to help address the broadband gap, but there is still much to be done to modernize the system so opportunity isn’t limited to the cities and the suburbs. We need to keep the pressure on and do this right.

Recent Posts

Feb 29, 2024

During Black History Month, Spanberger Introduces Bill to Name Fredericksburg Post Office for Civil Rights Leader, Gladys P. Todd

Gladys P. Todd Was A Revered School Teacher, Voting Rights Advocate, & Community Organizer in Fredericksburg WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today introduced legislation to rename a Fredericksburg post office after Gladys P. Todd, a prominent leader in the Fredericksburg civil rights movement. Located at 1285 Emancipation Highway in Fredericksburg, the post office […]

Feb 28, 2024

Spanberger Leads Virginia Lawmakers in Working to Protect $30 Internet Discount for Virginia Families, Fund Affordable Connectivity Program

The “Affordable Connectivity Program” Right Now Helps More than 455,000 Virginia Households Afford High-Speed Internet WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today led members of the Virginia congressional delegation in a bipartisan effort urging the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations to extend funding for a key discount program that allows more Virginia families to […]

Feb 26, 2024
Womens' Issues

In Wake of Alabama Supreme Court Ruling, Spanberger Joins Bicameral Effort to Protect Access to IVF

Congresswoman: “This Ruling Sets a Dangerous Precedent” WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today backed legislation to protect every American’s right to access in-vitro fertilization (IVF) following the Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling that frozen embryos are children under the law. On February 16, 2024, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos — or […]