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Rural internet

Randy Flint, a technician with White Construction Co., Inc., installs fiber optic cable along a county road in Black Earth, Wisconsin, last year. The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday announced nearly $1.5 billion in aid, including more than $41 in Nebraska, to companies to provide rural broadband internet over the next 10 years.

The Nebraska Legislature has the opportunity to put rural communities on a level playing field with the state’s metro areas.

LB549, introduced this session, would make important investments in broadband service mapping across the state. For too long, these maps have given the wrong service information, blinding the Legislature as it tries to decide where to invest resources for broadband expansion.

Whether it is seeking medical advice, expanding a small business or completing an education, rural Nebraskans like me depend on reliable access to broadband every day. Unfortunately, too many communities across the state are being left behind in an increasingly connected world. My town of fewer than 150 residents shouldn’t be cut off from participating in a modern economy.

As I drive through my hometown of Belgrade, I see everyday Nebraskans whose lives are affected by broadband access.

Small business owners count on a secure connection to serve their customers. Local volunteer firefighters depend on broadband to access resources for training and emergency preparedness -- broadband matters in rural communities.

The unfortunate reality is that too many rural communities in our state have been cut off from this fundamental economic development tool. As the Legislature considers LB549 this session, I strongly urge all of our senators, including my senator, Curt Friesen of District 34, to support this crucial investment in rural Nebraska.

The time has come to step up on rural broadband; the time has come to connect Nebraska.

Caryl Guisinger, Belgrade

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