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Bob Larson Broadband Bill for Rural Washington
by Bob Larson, click here for bio

Program: Fruit Grower Report
Date: February 13, 2017

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With today’s Fruit Grower Report, I’m Bob Larson. How’s the internet connection in your rural home? There’s a good chance it’s “spotty” at best.

House Bill 1702, sponsored by Pomeroy Representative Mary Dye would help provide high-speed Internet access to many of Washington state’s remote, rural areas.

She told KONA Radio last week, the bill’s getting some traction …

MARY DYE … “The telecommunications companies have really linked arms and joined together to help us and it looks very positive. We had an excellent hearing on that yesterday and I can’t tell you how many people made it over the icy passes to come and testify. We had mayors from Othello and a mayor from Rosalia. We had county commissioners. We had people from all over Eastern Washington come asking, “please, let’s get broadband out to these rural communities so we won’t be left behind in the global economy.”

The Garfield County Republican says hers, as well as Whitman and Wahkiakum counties are way off the internet grid, impacting everyone, but especially students …

MARY DYE … “While kids and teachers wait patiently to be connected to a broadband network, while donated Chromebooks go unused in homes in Rosalia because there is no bandwidth to use a Chromebook, telecoms have no market incentives to build fiber networks there.”

Dye says her bill would allow port districts to aggregate their markets and contract with retail telecommunications firms to bring in broadband.

She says the contracts will give providers some certainty that investing in rural areas will pay off in the long run.

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