What do the cotton gin, the combine and the iPhone have in common? All of these items have revolutionized rural Washington.
The iPhone and other smartphones make farmers and workers more productive and better connected. That’s why I traveled to Washington, D.C. recently with other rural Washingtonians who realize the potential of the Internet and mobile devices. We encouraged the Obama administration and Congress to expand rural access to wireless broadband. This will create jobs, spur economies, improve education, and speed communication.
As a member of the Washington Fire Commissioners Association, I know the need for reliable communication among departments, and the benefit of easy-to-access education and training. We expect Washington state, home to the tech industry, to lead the way in access. However, once you’re outside the big city, connection speed and access drop. Washington state ranks below the national average for total homes in broadband connectivity of at least 10 mbps, according to the Washington State Broadband Report. Nearly half of all residents have access to connectivity of only at least 3 mbps.
In January, President Obama pledged to bring high-speed wireless to 98 percent of Americans within five years. Our representatives in Washington, D.C. should look for ways to help the private sector continue to expand wireless access in rural counties.