Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Senate Farm Bill includes pilot program to test ultra-high-speed Internet in five rural communities

Sen. Patrick Leahy
The Farm Bill that passed the Senate Monday night included an amendment by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) for a pilot program to test ultra-high-speed Internet in rural communities. The program allows the Rural Utilities Service to invest in up to five gigabit-broadband networks, which are about 100 times faster than the average high-speed Internet, in rural areas over the next five years, reports Jennifer Reading for WCAX in Burlington.

"What I want to make sure is that a rural area can compete the same way an urban area can," Leahy said. "It's actually the argument, the debate that went on before I was even born about whether you had rural electricity, rural telephone or not, and if we hadn't done that much of this country would be a wasteland."

Leahy said he hopes Vermont is chosen for one of the pilot programs, reports Bob Kinzel of Vermont Public Radio. “We have demonstrated that businesses are eager to come to Vermont, they like to come into some of our rural areas but need the ability to have phone connections, Internet connection, power and so forth," Leahy said. “This would give us a great step forward if we had this.”

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