Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.)
There is no denying that the internet has radically changed the ways we communicate, shop, learn, and engage with the world around us. Yet despite the internet’s importance to our everyday lives, not every American has access to broadband internet service—service that has become essential.
Unfortunately, too many counties in our state continue to lack access to broadband service. This is especially true in too many of our rural communities in the Silver State. This unequal access to quality broadband internet is simply wrong and puts our rural residents at an unfair disadvantage. Every Nevada now requires and should have access to the unlimited knowledge and vital services the internet offers. Dial-up internet is simply not good enough anymore.
Broadband internet provides Nevadans with many opportunities for growth. Small businesses can gain quick access to the global market. Our children and grandchildren are able to complete and submit homework assignments with little hassle. Loved ones from across town—or even across the country and the world—can stay in touch with the click of a button. Families can immediately connect via video with a doctor who can help an ailing child. Reliable broadband internet access expedites all of these tasks and more, saving time and money in the process.
In the U.S. Senate, my colleague, Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and I represent states with insufficient rural broadband internet access. We are committed to working together to tackle this disparity head on. Recently, we introduced the Streamlining Permitting to Enable Efficient Deployment of Broadband Infrastructure Act of 2017, or SPEED Act. This bipartisan bill addresses the unacceptable gap in broadband access by speeding-up the permitting process for providers seeking to expand broadband networks into underserved areas and addressing challenges rural communities face in installing infrastructure on our public lands. I’ve also introduced the bipartisan Moving FIRST Act to provide funding for innovation in transportation and internet access in rural communities. These bills would improve online connectivity for more Americans, particularly benefitting rural economies. I also continue to call on the Trump Administration to include investments in rural broadband in its anticipated infrastructure proposal. There are opportunities for bipartisan agreement to invest in our rural communities, improve our infrastructure, and bring access to affordable broadband to every county in Nevada.
Nevadans deserve quality broadband internet access, regardless of where you live. I refuse to stand by as many Nevadans continue to lack this vital necessity. Access to broadband internet is much more than a telecommunications issue. It is an equality issue and it’s time every Nevadan, from White Pine and Esmeralda, to Lincoln and Lyon counties have access to the services, resources, and economic opportunities the internet offers. This remains one of my top priorities as your Senator and a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which oversees telecommunications issues. As your Senator, I am committed to finding bipartisan solutions that improve opportunities for all Nevadans.
Catherine Cortez Masto is a U.S. Senator representing the state of Nevada.