first_imgVermont Business Magazine A bipartisan coalition of 71 members of the House of Representatives, including Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vermont) sent a letter to President Donald Trump today urging him to include investments in rural broadband connectivity in his forthcoming infrastructure proposal. The lawmakers highlighted the importance of broadband connectivity in attracting and retaining businesses, communication between family and friends, timely responses to an emergency response, agricultural efficiency, and access to educational materials.The letter was led by Welch, Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Dave Loebsack (D-IA), and Bob Latta (R-OH).  The bipartisan Senate Broadband Caucus sent a similar letter today led by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Angus King (I-ME), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and John Boozman (R-AR).“In the 21st Century, high speed internet access is no longer a luxury amenity, but rather an essential service for homes and businesses in this interconnected world,” the lawmakers write. “Unfortunately, rural Americans in our districts lack sufficient broadband infrastructure to take advantage of this explosion of technology and economic possibility…. As you consider the parameters of your infrastructure proposal to Congress, we write to urge you to include investments that will bring the benefits of broadband connectivity to rural America.”The letter can be read in its entirety here(link is external).In 2015, the FCC updated its broadband benchmark speeds to 25 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads. A significant digital divide remains between urban and rural America: Over half of all rural Americans lack access to this standard of service. According to the FCC, using this updated benchmark, the 2015 report finds that 55 million Americans – 17 percent of the population – lack access to advanced broadband.Source: Welch 1.31.2017last_img