Approximately 1.2 million households, many of which are in the district, do not have a permanently fixed broadband connection. This is unacceptable.
BENZIE COUNTY, Mich. – This morning I was in a telemeeting with local leaders in the First District, and someone providing an important update on their township couldn’t connect. This highlights the dire need for rural broadband in our district. For six years Jack Bergman promised Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula he would work to expand broadband services in our rural communities. Over half a decade later, still nothing. In fact, he continually votes against it. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, which Jack adamantly opposed, sets aside $65 billion for America’s spotty broadband system. I will push for this initiative and similar like it because 68% of people living in rural areas and tribal lands don't have access to broadband, according to research by the FCC. A 2018 U.S. Government Accountability Office report indicates the real number may be even higher. My opponent was trying to invite broadband expansion to the area since he took office, but he exclusively concentrated on attracting private corporate investment, and although there’s a role for private enterprise, all his efforts failed. I applaud several organizations, specifically Michigan Broadband Cooperative, Connected Nation Michigan, and Center for Change, who are leading the way in advancing the conversation of broadband access in rural Northern Michigan. At a local level, rural broadband can significantly improve our students’ learning. It can assist our daughters to pursue their passions in STEM programs to become engineers, scientists, and world leaders. It can help our sons realize their dreams of studying international business and communicating around the globe. Access to consistent, reliable broadband will also enable Northern Michigan residents to work from home, which positively transforms our economy and attracts opportunity and investment to the area.
Investment in broadband increases access and usage of amenities, digital skills, online education, and job search opportunities. It leads to higher property values, increased job and population growth, higher rates of new business formation, and lower unemployment rates. Broadband expansion also improves health and life outcomes, offering access to remote healthcare providers, online social networks, and educational opportunities.
At a state level, the infrastructure bill provides $100 million to extend broadband coverage and provide nearly 2.5 million low-income Michigan households the opportunity to apply for funds to help afford internet access, a goal I champion. No child should have to sit outside a fast-food restaurant to connect to wifi to do their homework. Approximately 1.2 million households, many of which are in the district, do not have a permanently fixed broadband connection. This is unacceptable. Can you pitch in today to ensure we win this election so that I can fight for the real needs of rural Michigan? Let's take this seat back. – Dr. Bob