Rep. Jason Saine Discusses Importance of Rural Broadband Access with RFD-TV

On last week’s RFD-TV’s Market Day Report, State Representative Jason Saine (R-97) highlighted the importance and need for more rural broadband access and outlined his plans to speed the delivery of high-speed internet service to rural and unserved regions of North Carolina:

One of the challenges in North Carolina, like many states, [is that] we’ve got varying terrain and populations that are sparse in many of our rural areas, so broadband hasn’t reached those folks yet, or at least nothing that looks like high-speed broadband that more suburban and urban areas get to enjoy getting that broadband deployed to our citizens, particularly during a pandemic as we’re trying to deliver education, telehealth and other services, [is a challenge because] they’re not competing on the same field, so we’re looking at ways to quickly deploy broadband and get those [rural] communities connected.”

When asked what can be done to address rural broadband expansion, Rep. Saine noted the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) awards allocated in North Carolina to support rural broadband build out and for investment in broadband infrastructure projects. Saying further:

So, one of the things we’re going to do in North Carolina is we’re going to use some of those rural infrastructure dollars and put them toward replacing [utility] poles so that internet providers can [attach broadband equipment] on poles faster and, in so doing, get broadband out to people in rural areas.”

With the additional federal dollars, I know there’s support there and I know that communities are really wanting it. There’s certainly demand, particularly with kids who had to go to school online over the past year and instead had to go sit in the parking lots at their schools getting broadband out to those households I think is certainly important. I think most of our members understand that whether they’re from the urban areas or from the rural areas they know just how important this is.”

You can watch Representative Saine’s full interview with RFD-TV by clicking here.

The FCC reports that almost half a million unserved North Carolinians remain without access to reliable broadband connectivity – many of them in rural areas. Right now, unnecessary obstacles and antiquated regulations are driving up broadband deployment costs and delaying the expansion of high-speed internet network infrastructure on utility poles owned by electric member cooperatives and municipal utilities, leaving many in North Carolina stuck on the wrong side of the digital divide.

In response to this growing divide, State Representative Saine (R-97) and State Senator Ralph Hise (R-47) filed companion measures HB 815 and SB 689 to establish much-needed regulatory oversight related to utility poles, so broadband providers can more quickly expand to unserved areas. The proposed legislation aims to reduce the unnecessary delays and costs associated with attaching new broadband equipment to municipal and electric member cooperative owned utility poles.

Write your legislator and encourage them to support HB 815 and SB 689 to connect more North Carolinians to high-speed broadband by clicking here.