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High speed broadband has the potential to revolutionize the way rural populations live their lives. As folks in urban areas today benefit from the everyday experiences of online banking, email, or ridesharing, rural populations continue to be left on the sideline. The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the need for high-speed broadband to rural America, with students having to access educational material online and patients needing to safely seek medical care via reliable telehealth.

As Co-Chair of the House Rural Broadband Caucus, addressing the challenges to broadband expansion in unserved areas and developing innovative solutions that bridge the digital divide between urban and rural America remain top priorities of mine in Congress. We must work to identify ways states and localities can partner with the federal government to better focus resources on unserved areas. For me, the issue of rural broadband dates back more than 20 years to my time on the Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors. Since my time in Congress, I have been fighting to expand connectivity for the First District through the First District Broadband Task Force and as a Co-Chair of the House Rural Broadband Caucus. I’ve helped draft legislation to improve mapping, add more money to fund broadband, and hold Internet Service Providers accountable to ensure accurate coverage. 

Currently, burdensome regulations are hindering shovel-ready projects from providing broadband access to unserved populations and throughout the country. By streamlining our federal permitting processes, we can help better connect the more than 23 million Americans with little or no access to broadband, to the digital economy. Closing the digital divide is the key to lifting up countless communities and populations in unserved areas.