News Release: WASHINGTON – Today, in a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing on improving access to infrastructure, Senator Maggie Hassan, D-NH. highlighted the importance of addressing challenges for rural communities in New Hampshire given the rural-urban digital divide.
Underscoring the importance of a modern, strong telecommunications infrastructure to the economic prosperity of businesses in New Hampshire, as well as to the safety of all Granite Staters, Hassan stressed the need to address the challenges that rural communities face in getting access to broadband.
assan asked Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of NCTA-the Rural Broadband Association, what should be included in an infrastructure bill “to ensure that rural Americans in New Hampshire and across the country make strides in closing the digital divide?” In response, Bloomfield listed several factors that should be considered in an infrastructure bill to address the issue, including support for the Universal Service Fund program and “streamlining some of the processes, some of the regulatory burdens,” and “connecting the dots,” to find better ways to identify communities in need of infrastructure and connecting them to providers that can help meet their needs.
As a member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, Hassan has been a strong proponent of closing the digital divide for rural communities. She recently voted to approve the MOBILE Now Act, which will remove barriers to wireless broadband deployment, as well as the Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act, to improve the quality of calls to and from rural areas.
The Senator also joined Senator Shaheen in sending a letter to the Federal Communications Commission this week, urging them to avoid cuts to the Rural Health Care Program, which is critical to delivering health care services and telemedicine to rural communities by providing funding for broadband. As Governor of New Hampshire, Senator Hassan supported the expansion of cellular and broadband service in the North Country through the North Country Cell Service Initiative.
Roger Wood monitored the Senate session.