The Importance of Reliable Rural Internet

“Reliable rural internet”. It’s one of my primary campaign topics. I am adamant that high-speed internet be as accessible and affordable in our rural areas as it is in our larger cities, and I support classifying the internet as a public utility and implementing an internet infrastructure plan similar to the Rural Electrification Act of the 1930s.

Why is this important?

The internet brings expanded educational opportunities to students and adults. Students can use internet courses to supplement traditional learning, and studies have shown that students without the benefit of internet access fall behind their peers who have access. Adults can learn new skills and technologies when the training isn’t available in their area. These educational choices give folks one more effective option to help them succeed.

While I would like to see more traditional jobs with higher pay reaching our rural areas, there are proven small business and career opportunities available with internet access. Even the smallest company with an internet presence has access to a global market. Our entire economy depends on reliable, high-speed internet and our rural areas deserve the same chance at success as their peers in more-connected areas. As more jobs are automated or shifted off-site, this connectivity becomes even more critical.

Eighteen rural hospitals in Texas have closed since 2013, and I doubt those will be the last. Telemedicine can fill some of this treatment gap while we’re working to solve this crisis, but the connection bandwidth required for this telemedicine technology can be far more than what is typically available in most rural areas (if internet service is available at all), which means many areas are effectively denied this vital healthcare option.

Reliable, affordable, high-speed internet access is essential for current and future educational choices, business and career opportunities, and healthcare access. I want folks to be able to live in the rural setting we love and not have to sacrifice their education, their career, or their health.

I’m Michelle Ryan, Democratic candidate for State Representative District 17, and I’m asking for your support and your vote in 2018.

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