Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger Holds Broadband Summit in Louisa County
7th District Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger is working to expand broadband internet access to rural parts of the area. She visited Louisa County on Saturday to get feedback from people living in the rural community.
Spanberger hosted her 2019 Rural Broadband Summit at Louisa County High School. She says making high-speed internet access available to everyone is a top priority.
"Broadband is a basic technology that impacts everything from a child in school to a veteran trying to access tele-health services,” Spanberger said. "It's an issue of economic and opportunity divide we are consistently seeing."
The need for internet services continues to rise with more modern technology, especially in schools.
"About 70% of all homework for K-12 students is now done online or requires an online component, but we also know 30% of rural Americans don't have broadband,” said Christopher Ali, professor of media studies. You put that together that's a huge chunk, that's millions of students who can't do their homework.”
Internet access is also a necessity for farmers.
"Broadband is vital to Virginia farmers. I'm a sixth generation farmer, I've got four grandchildren, for them to be able to operate the farm, do the business, transfer the information, we have got to have strong broadband,” said Jim Riddell, president of Louisa Farm Bureau.
Spanberger says she has an amendment to help the issue.
"I passed an amendment as part of our largest USDA appropriations bill that increased funding to the reconnect program, that's a program that provides grant money to our localities that are interested in bringing broadband internet,” said Spanberger. "That increase was $55 million, it was fully bipartisan, it got a strong vote on the floor and there is a variety of other bills currently being considered in Congress."
Spanberger’s goal of the summit is to make sure people understand the problem and for people to know what programs exist so they can also connect with boards and officials in the community.