Rep. Clyburn Forms Rural Broadband Task Force

House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) has launched the House [Democratic] Task Force on Rural Broadband to try and help close the rural digital divide and eliminate "digital deserts."

“High-speed internet is an essential service in America today—yet too many of our fellow citizens in rural communities are being left behind," said Rep. Clyburn. "I have heard numerous stories of families traveling many miles to places where their children can access the internet to do their homework. It’s unacceptable in 2019 that many rural communities have limited to no access to the internet. If rural America is to thrive in the 21st century information economy, it must have affordable and accessible internet service to every community.”

The issue runs in the family. Closing that broadband divide was and is a priority for former FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn, James Clyburn's daughter.

In February, Mignon Clyburn was tapped to head a new INCOMPAS campaign focused on boosting "tech innovation and inclusion" in rural America.

The rollout of the task force Monday (May 13) coincides with Infrastructure Week and in the wake of the President's commitment to a $2 trillion infrastructure package to include broadband. The President has said getting broadband to farmers for this-gen as well as next-gen high tech agriculture a priority.

FCC chair Ajit Pai has also said rural broadband deployment must be a priority, including getting better data on where broadband is and isn't.

Priorities for the task force include:

• "highlighting success stories and innovative approaches;

• "ensuring that federal funding for rural broadband is spent effectively;

• "identifying necessary steps to position the United States to lead the world in universal

broadband deployment; and

• "passing legislation to advance a transformative agenda on rural broadband that accomplishes the goal of affordable universal access by 2025."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.