Lack of broadband puts tribal, rural areas ‘in jeopardy,’ lawmakers told
By Miranda Faulkner | Cronkite News | Thursday, July 11, 2019
WASHINGTON – The Havasupai tribe is falling behind in education, health and emergency needs because, like many rural communities, it lacks affordable, reliable and high-speed broadband, a tribal councilwoman told a House committee Thursday.
Ophelia Watahomigie-Corliss was one of several witnesses who said rural areas are “in jeopardy” of being left behind without the high-speed internet access of broadband, which is used for everything from telemedicine to distance learning to up-to-the-minute market reports for farmers.
“Community members can better their lives and their education through future broadband expansion,” Watahomigie-Corliss said in testimony prepared for a House Agriculture subcommittee.
“These services that ordinary Americans have been using for the past 20 years are still not a reality for my entire community, but this is the first glimmer of hope we have seen for decades,” she said of gain the tribe has made recently after decades of effort.
The Havasupai are among 24 million Americans in rural communities that lack infrastructure for high-speed broadband that is “critical to survival,” said Rep. Austin Scott, R-Georgia.
“Big data and artificial intelligence, cloud storage and computing, the internet of things and data analytics, telemedicine, and other modern tools cannot be replicated without broadband access to the Internet,” he said.
Thursday’s hearing was called to find out “what’s being done well … and what work remains” to bring broadband to rural communities, said Rep. David Scott, D-Georgia, the subcommittee chairman who called the meeting.
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