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Oklahoma Lawmaker Pushes for New Broadband Expansion

Oklahoma State Rep. Frank Lucas has been pushing for rural broadband Internet connectivity across the state, doing so most recently by penning a related bipartisan letter to President Joe Biden.

by Stillwater NewsPress / February 16, 2021

(TNS) — We applaud Rep. Frank Lucas's efforts to make rural broadband connectivity a priority.

Lucas added his name to a bipartisan letter to President Biden that urges prioritizing rural broadband in any upcoming infrastructure packages.

"As you develop your infrastructure proposal to present to Congress, we write to urge you to include investments that will bring the benefits of broadband connectivity to unserved rural America and tribal areas," the letter reads. "In the 21st Century, high-speed broadband is no longer a luxury amenity, but rather an essential service for homes and businesses in this interconnected world."

It's too early to say how actual legislation could shake out, if it gets twisted around or stuffed with pork, or any number of things that could sink it.

But, the sentiment, and the overriding goal is the correct notion.

We, as Oklahomans, even as a country, have got to start thinking about Internet access as a necessary part of our infrastructure, almost like a utility such as power or running water. We could certainly survive without it, many already do, but the difficulties for a standard of living are only going to get tougher if we have gaps in access.

Have you ever tried to apply for a job without Internet access? It's almost impossible.

We have an example of how the access shortfall is impacting us with the country's vaccination efforts. Signing up and getting notifications was almost exclusively online. Many of our oldest residents relied on help from family to be included.

During the pandemic, Internet access was critical for education. Children without the same kind of access were at a distinct disadvantage through no fault of their own. It was also an important tool in receiving medical diagnosis for those who are homebound.

Much of Oklahoma is rural, and much of these rural areas fall behind metro areas in broadband connectivity.

We can close those gaps, but it's going to take money, and it has to be seen as a worthy investment in our future.

(c)2021 the Stillwater NewsPress, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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