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House Rural Broadband Caucus Hosts Strategic Panel

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Washington, June 11, 2019 | comments

WASHINGTON – Today the House Rural Broadband Caucus, in cooperation with the NCTA—Internet & Television Association, held a panel entitled Trailblazing a Path for Rural Broadband. Congressman Wittman introduced the panel and delivered remarks on what NCTA and its member companies are doing across the nation to help close the digital divide.

“High speed broadband has the potential to revolutionize the way rural populations live their lives,” said Wittman. “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. They struggle to gain access to key services such as telemedicine, online education, and applications that help small businesses compete in the 21st Century. It is essential that any federal efforts to close the digital divide focus on the truly unserved first. Two of the panelists, Cox Communications and Comcast, are members of my First District Broadband Task Force and they have shown a great willingness to work in partnership with my office on ways to help solve the challenges facing providers, including government regulations, cost of service, and geographic obstacles.”

The panel shared their strategies to ensure consumers in these markets have the internet they need for their jobs, businesses, education, tele-health, and increased economic opportunity. They also detailed what policymakers can do to encourage providers to deploy in unserved, hard-to-reach areas, without discouraging further private capital investment in areas where providers have already invested in network infrastructure. Additionally, the panel discussed the value of public-private partnerships and how instrumental federal and state broadband grant programs can be in incentivizing providers to build out their networks in rural areas.

Two Virginians served on the panel:

  1. Barrett Stork,  Director of Government & Regulatory Affairs, Cox, discussed his company’s success with the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI) to bring high-speed broadband service to unserved populations in Gloucester County/Hampton Roads region of the state.
  2. Terry Ellis, Vice President, Government & Regulatory Affairs, Comcast, described how Comcast has partnered with states with broadband grant programs such as Virginia to expand the delivery of their full suite of services to unserved and underserved towns in the states they serve.

Congressman Rob Wittman represents the 1st District of Virginia. He serves on the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, where he serves as the ranking member of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee.

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