Broadband caucuses stress rural need to President

The President is hearing a strong bicameral, bipartisan message from over 100 House and Senate leaders asking him to include broadband improvements in a national infrastructure package. The House Rural Broadband Caucus and Senate Broadband Caucus organized ­letters signed by 71 House members and 48 senators urging the Administration to ensure any infrastructure plan includes broadband projects, particularly in rural America. The nation’s electric cooperatives are working with the ­caucuses to educate lawmakers on the need for broadband policy solutions that provide high-speed access for rural communities.

Several Illinois electric cooperatives have already forged ahead to offer wireless and now fiber optic broadband services. One example is Jo-Carroll Energy, which started with wireless ­service and is now adding fiber optic broadband service for ­communities like Galena. It’s already ­helping local ­businesses grow.

Vinny Vanucchi’s, a local Galena ­restaurant favorite, has been able to ­implement a new point of sale ­system and tablets for their servers as well as the ability for reser­vations and credit card ­payments to be done in real time. The ­restaurant also plans to offer wifi, via a hotspot, as another customer benefit.

Paul Connor, owner of EZSellUSA, says fiber optics in Galena gives the community an opportunity to grow ­businesses utilizing the power of the internet. “Fiber optic in Galena gives us the opportunity to grow to a whole new level outside of just the Galena area.”

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association CEO Jim Matheson said, “President Trump’s focus on the need to improve infrastructure is welcomed. We encourage the president and Congress to think beyond roads, bridges, and urban development ­projects when considering an ­infrastructure package. Any infrastructure package should address both rural and urban needs – and should prioritize expanded broadband access for rural America.”