Leaders meet to discuss broadband access

By: Katie Roach Email
By: Katie Roach Email

Broadband access opens up many doors and opportunities for people, but some rural areas still do not have access to this service yet.

That's why leaders from across the nation met Tuesday in Whitesburg.

In these mountains, broadband service is patchy and some areas are better than others, but Dee Davis with the Center for Rural Strategies in Whitesburg says without broadband access, community development will fall behind.

"If we don't have that high speed Internet in our communities then we are always going to have a competitive disadvantage in the global economy," said Davis.

Leaders from several agencies around the nation joined the discussion in Whitesburg, and they all agree that the problem is making an impact on rural communities.

"It's important for really everything anymore: education, business development, hospitals," said Martin Defalco with the Appalachian Regional Commission.

"We understand that access especially to broadband is such a cornerstone of kind of all of the indicators to community well being," said Amalia Deloney with the Center for Media Justice.

Leaders hope that by having the summit and hearing, it will promote change. They say the number one obstacle of getting broadband access out into rural areas is the cost.

"You get into these very rural areas and the amount of money it takes to lay the facilities to build the infrastructure to make it work is very expensive," said Defalco.

Defalco says the government has been helpful in creating subsidies, and these leaders want to make sure legislators know more help is needed.

"We want to make sure that the policy makers in D.C. hear from real people all across the country because there are solutions being innovated at the local level that are really geographically specific," said Deloney.

The event continues tomorrow at the Appalshop Auditorium in downtown Whitesburg from 10:00 a.m. until noon.

The public is invited and encouraged to come and participate.

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