Provided by Congressman Rob Wittman’s Office
Today, Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-1) sent a letter to President Donald J. Trump advocating for increasing access to broadband in rural areas. Rep. Wittman urged the administration to include policies promoting broadband investments in any upcoming infrastructure package.
“High speed internet access, or broadband, is critical to economic growth, job creation, education, and healthcare. Therefore, improving access to broadband is imperative to any infrastructure proposal and that is why it must be a priority as Congress and your administration move forward in addressing infrastructure needs,” Wittman wrote in the letter.
Congressman Wittman has been a leader on promoting access to broadband in rural areas. Currently almost 50% of rural Virginians either lack access to high speed internet or 29% don’t have any internet service at all. In October, the Congressman organized the creation and first meeting of a Rural Broadband Task Force. At the Northern Neck Electrical Cooperative, Congressman Wittman was joined by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai, regional stakeholders, and state and local officials to discuss ways of improving speeds and expanding internet access. Among the issues discussed were eliminating the labyrinth of red tape and regulations, defining prescriptive easements, establishing dig once policies, and strengthening public-private partnerships. A video of the entire event is available here.
“I think the administration has a real opportunity here to make a difference for the Commonwealth and the nation. As the internet changes our lives, we cannot leave those in rural areas on the sidelines. I am going to continue working on this issue with federal, state, and local stakeholders in order to bring accessible high speed internet to rural Virginians,” Wittman said.
The full text of the letter is available here and below.
January 17, 2018
President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Today, people and businesses are being left on the sidelines as more than 34 million Americans struggle to gain access to high speed internet services. As you work with Congress to address our nation’s infrastructure needs, I urge you to strongly consider including policies that will help promote broadband investments and bridge the digital divide between urban and rural America. Expanding access and increasing speeds of broadband for the unserved and underserved regions of this great country could help spur immense economic growth and bring greater prosperity to rural areas.
The internet has forever altered how we live our lives and how businesses operate. Today, Americans rely upon the internet to carry out everyday tasks; whether balancing their checkbooks through online banking platforms or sending emails, access to broadband services has become essential. It is estimated that for every percentage point increase in broadband investment, 300,000 new jobs are created. Including broadband investments in a larger infrastructure proposal will drive growth in every pocket of the country which means more jobs and higher wages for Americans.
As part of my own efforts to expand broadband access and increase speeds in the Commonwealth of Virginia, I recently hosted Chairman Ajit Pai for a broadband taskforce summit in my district with federal, state, and local industry stakeholders. Among the issues discussed were eliminating the labyrinth of red tape and regulations, defining prescriptive easements, establishing “dig once” policies, and strengthening public-private partnerships. Instituting any of these policies, particularly eliminating regulatory barriers and leveraging private dollars with state and federal revenues, will be central to future broadband investments.
High speed internet access, or broadband, is critical to economic growth, job creation, education, and healthcare. Therefore, improving access to broadband is imperative to any infrastructure proposal and that is why it must be a priority as Congress and your administration move forward in addressing infrastructure needs. By giving millions more Americans access to broadband, the United States has the opportunity to claim an even bigger role in the global economy.
I want to thank you for your leadership on this issue and look forward to working with you to expand broadband access to the unserved and underserved regions of Virginia and America.
Robert J. Wittman
Member of Congress
Gary Cohn, Director, National Economic Council
Elaine Chao, Secretary, Department of Transportation
Ajit Pai, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission
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 is the Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee.