Texoma (KFDX/KJTL) — As Congress debates President Biden’s infrastructure plan, broadband access to rural communities is also at stake. And, local rural communities are paying close attention to the plan.
Broadband access in rural communities has been a problem for years. But even if the bill doesn’t pass, clay county officials say they’re working to bring it to the area anyway.
It affects schools.
“When COVID shut down our schools and they had to go to online training, sadly many of our students didn’t have that option. You would see many of the students parked around the school so they could connect to the wireless,” Clay County Judge Mike Campbell said.
It affects farmers.
“They do lot of GPS coordinates with their equipment. If we have good connectivity, you don’t even think about it. But when you can’t then it changes the way you operate,” Wichita County Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Agent David Graf said.
Internet access affects everyone and is influential to many rural communities like Clay County.
“It’s up there with electricity to me because if we’re ever going to grow as a county, if we ever expect people to move back into Clay County like they were in the twenty’s and thirty’s, they’re going to have to have broadband,” Campbell said.
President Biden has expressed an emphasis to expand rural broadband access and Republicans on the house agriculture committee have proposed a more than seven billion dollar bill that graf says would help farmers very much.
“The markets and that change so quickly now everything that we do has to move so fast and we don’t have good internet service, it really really hurts what we’re trying to do,” Graf said. “Hopefully they’ll be able to get this and speed up the process.”
While the process to get broadband to these communities may take some time, there already efforts to improve that in Clay County.
“It’s getting better. Southwestern part of the county is in good shape. Comcell has pulled fiber out there for quite a while and right now they’re pulling from Vashti down to Newport. We want to be connected. We want to know what’s going on in the world, but we don’t necessarily want to be a part of what’s going on in the world. We want to be out here where it’s safe,” Campbell said.
Residents of rural communities enjoy the isolation from urban areas but also want a high-speed connection to go with it.
For more information on Biden’s infrastructure plan click here.
For information on the House Committee on Agriculture Republicans Broadband for Rural America Act click here.