Rural Town Hall: FCC Chairman Discusses Better Broadband Access for Rural America

From broadband infrastructure to rural programming, the Federal Communications Commission is looking to bring better access to Rural America. Commissioner Nathan Skimmington says a comprehensive solution should use all the tools available.

“Obviously, wired internet, whether that’s cable or fiber, depending on the situation is going to be a huge part of how this gets over the line. But wireless internet is also seeing a huge amount of investment right now. Both mobility, wireless and then also fixed wireless where you’re simply you’re simply distributing wirelessly to a fixed location. “

He sees satellite technology as an opportunity to advance both internet connectivity, as well as data applications for precision agriculture.

“From talking to some of the optical satellite companies they have imaging down to the level of individual plants. And moisture, moisture, chlorophyll activity, keeps tracking down to the down to the very, very fine-grained level of detail. So, it’s not even just precision equipment operation either, but it’s really finding the absolute maximization characteristics for a particular variety for a particular you know, doing yield prediction all the rest of this stuff.”

He also sees it as an important part of rural development.

“The data that’s generated in Rural America and that I hope is also put to use in Rural America, whether that’s in obviously it’s in agriculture, but also be in forestry, could be relating to fisheries could be related. To mines, could be logistics operations, that this data as it’s being generated and deployed to increase productivity on the spot will likely bring in increased increasingly sophisticated and diversified rural economies along with it so I think.”

For consumers, the FCC will be using recently passed infrastructure funding to improve affordability through programs like the emergency broadband benefit

“It’s a direct-to-consumer broadband. So, there’s an existing consumer broadband subsidy, the EBB, that the new one AFC is going to be, is going to be following up on that. I think again here, this is where individual viewers may find themselves more eligible for support than they think. And so, we haven’t seen the uptake numbers that we wanted on the EBB program so far.”

The national telecommunications and information administration will also be receiving a chunk of the funding to increase speeds across the country.


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