Biden campaign pushes for improved broadband access in rural and tribal areas
By Samone Blair
UNITED STATES – Former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign held a roundtable about rural and tribal broadband access Friday.
“The Covid-19 crisis has revealed that Americans everywhere need universal, reliable, affordable and high-speed internet to do their jobs and participate equally in remote school learning,” Former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said.
Biden’s Build Back Better economic plan features a $2 trillion investment in infrastructure including universal broadband.
“Vice President Biden has committed to closing that digital divide. It needs to be closed everywhere from lower income urban schools to rural America to Indian Country,” Joe Biden for President Campaign Tribal Engagements Director Clara Pratte said.
North Dakota Congressman Kelly Armstrong sees improving broadband access on tribal reservations as an area of improvement.
“North Dakota generally has very good rural broadband. One of the glaring defects in that is on our reservations and it is something that has had bipartisan support prior to covid,” Rep. Armstrong said.
While the Trump Administration announced an $86 million investment in rural broadband in June, none of the funding is for North Dakota.
“39 percent of households, roughly 23 million Americans, do not have access to high speed internet,” Jewell said.
Broadband access contributes to small businesses, education and healthcare.
“Just imagine the future of rural and tribal America with full access to technology. They’d thrive and, as we’ve seen, it would open up the doors to economic expansion so people can do so many professions which are not place-bound anymore. They can literally be done from anywhere,” Jewell explained.