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I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. As Christmas quickly approaches and the year comes to an end, there is still plenty to get done before the session starts. Over this past week I have traveled across the state to McCook, Central City and Lincoln attending LR 176 hearings held by the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. LR 176 is a study of rural broadband.
The committee is looking at ways to speed the process of expanding high speed internet to all rural customers. It is reminiscent of the time when we were working to connect all rural residents to electricity. It is important to the entire State that everyone have access to high speed internet. All citizens need this access for prosperity and equal opportunity. The bigger cities have already had their broadband built to their boundaries, but the rural areas still need this infrastructure. The “last mile” is the hardest and will take a little extra funding. Part of the discussion is having telecom providers and local electric providers enter into partnerships allowing the hanging of fiber from existing poles instead of burying the fiber underground. This is just another idea of how to go about getting the job done faster. Some telecom companies have been able to build out to one hundred percent of their customers, while others are not quite there yet.
Serving the rural areas of Nebraska is becoming more important than ever. With the changing landscape of agriculture, the need for data capacity is growing exponentially. Modern agriculture is using massive amounts of data in the production decision process. Broadband is more than just streaming videos and surfing the net, it is vitally important to all our rural industries.
Expanding high speed internet will have a positive impact on Nebraska’s economy. Golight, a company that produces high powered lighting used by first responders, the military, utilities vehicles, and farmers and ranchers, is headquartered in Culbertson, Nebraska. Golight is a growing company, and without the help of high speed internet the company would not be marketing its products to customers worldwide. A good analogy of high speed internet is, it is just like the road system. Cities and towns have extensive road systems through and around their limits, but they still need pathways and abilities to connect with other cities and towns. While a road traveling through rural areas may only seem to benefit local people, our entire population still needs to have the ability to travel the state. If the rural areas have high speed internet, the entire state benefits just as we do with our roads.
I always enjoy hearing from the Nebraskans I represent. Please feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns that you might have. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and my phone number is (402) 471-2805.You can read more about bills and other work of the Legislature at www.nebraskalegislature.gov, and you can click on the Live Video Streaming NET logo to watch sessions, hearings, and other capitol events.