In today’s modern era, technology improves fast, sometimes almost daily. Whether it be our phones, the internet, or our method of transportation, we live in an incredibly technologically advanced world. However, rural America—by no fault of its own—has struggled to stay up-to-date in our quickly evolving world.
One technological advancement, broadband internet, started to spread across the country in the early 2000s. Instead of traditional dial-up connection, Americans could take advantage of continuous internet and faster connection speeds. Unfortunately, many consumers throughout rural communities continue to only have access to dial-up connections.
According to the Federal Communications Commission, 39 percent of rural Americans don’t have access to high-speed internet. The Second District of Oklahoma is the only district in the country where broadband internet is available to less than half of the population. This means that of the 750,000 people that I represent, less than 375,000 people actually have access to high-speed internet, a luxury most people across the nation have enjoyed for years.
This past week, President Trump spoke at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting in Tennessee. While there, he signed two executive orders to expand access and bring reliable broadband internet to our nation’s rural communities. The executive orders direct the Department of Interior to use its resources to support the installation of broadband internet by private companies and increase efficiency in the installation process.
Rural America has often been overlooked in past administrations when it came to infrastructure, employment and poverty rates, health care access, and technology improvements. It’s great to have a president who advocates for the needs of rural America, including hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans. While our work modernizing rural America is far from done, this is a positive step to bring rural America into the modern era.