January 5, 2018
SENATOR WICKER JOINS RURAL BROADBAND ADVOCATES FOR TOWN HALL ON MISSISSIPPI’S DIGITAL DIVIDE
Local leaders discuss Connect Americans Now’s plan to close the digital divide by 2022
Jackson, MS – Three days after its national launch, Connect Americans Now (CAN) hosted a town hall featuring U.S. Senator Roger Wicker alongside rural advocates, business leaders and Mississippi residents to discuss the coalition’s plan to eliminate America’s digital divide by 2022. CAN aims to open a dialogue with Congress, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other organizations about new technologies that can expand broadband access throughout rural America.
“I am encouraged by this new partnership to help close the digital divide,” said Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker. “Connecting more Mississippians to high-speed internet is essential to our state’s economic future.”
To provide affordable and reliable service in rural communities, CAN seeks to deploy a combination of “wired” and “wireless” technologies, including fiber-based technologies and terrestrial and satellite fixed and mobile wireless technologies, leveraging a range of frequencies including the TV white spaces. To make this plan a reality, CAN is urging the FCC to ensure that three channels below 700 MHz are available for wireless use on an unlicensed basis in every market in the country, with additional TV white spaces available in smaller markets and rural areas.
Following CAN’s launch earlier this week, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant offered his support, saying, “It’s critical to expand broadband access, especially for the millions of rural Americans who are on the wrong side of the digital divide. I applaud Connect Americans Now’s efforts to extend high-speed access to the internet in rural America and urge the FCC to reserve white space channels in the U.S. market to better enable access to broadband internet.”
“All Mississippians – whether they live in downtown Jackson or a farm outside of Holly Springs – deserve access to a reliable broadband connection,” said Richard T. Cullen, Executive Director of Connect Americans Now. “We are thankful for the support our cause has received from Governor Bryant and Senator Wicker. Today’s event was another important step toward closing Mississippi’s digital divide so everyone can take advantage of the tremendous opportunities a broadband connection provides.”
“Staying competitive in the modern farm economy takes more than good weather and a strong back,” said Darrington Seward, a farmer from Louise, Mississippi, and a member of the Delta Council. “A broadband connection opens up a new world of technologies, like remote soil sensors and targeted irrigation, helping to increase yields, lower costs and conserve resources. And just like any other small business, the opportunity to shop online for affordable equipment and access customers all over the world can be a game changer. I’m excited see Connect Americans Now pressing ahead on solutions that will expand broadband access throughout rural Mississippi and help close the digital divide once and for all.”
Implications of the Digital Divide in Mississippi and Around the U.S.
About Connect Americans Now
Connect Americans Now is a group of concerned citizens, local organizations, rural advocates and leading innovators committed to eliminating the digital divide that is holding back rural America. Our goal is to bring rural Americans who currently lack connectivity safe and affordable broadband access by 2022 so they can take advantage of the economic and educational opportunities that exist in other communities.