Senate Farm Bill adds Rural Gigabit Amendment

The U.S. Senate just adopted an amendment to invest in gigabit (1,000 megabit per second) rural broadband networks. Our local leaders need to lobby for the House to pass this, if they are serious about fast affordable Internet service for everyone here. Senator Leahy’s tiny Vermont, with the population of a single Congressional district, is already well along towards gigabit Internet. Our three House members can help get south Georgia on the road to better jobs, education, and health care through better Internet service.

Jennifer Reading wrote today for WCAX, Leahy’s high-speed internet amendment passes,

What I want to make sure is that a rural area can compete the same way an urban area can. 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,” said Sen. Leahy.

Don’t we want that, too?

The amendment, S.Amdt. 998 (Leahy) to S. 954: To establish a pilot program for gigabit Internet projects in rural areas. Our Georgia Senator Isakson voted against it and Chambliss didn’t vote. Do they represent rural south Georgia?

PR from Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) yesterday, Senate Adopts Leahy Amendment To Invest in Gigabit Broadband Networks In Rural Areas,

WASHINGTON (MONDAY, June 10, 2013) — Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Monday won passage of his amendment to the Farm Bill to establish a pilot program within the Rural Utilities Service Broadband Program to invest in broadband projects offering ultra-high speed gigabit Internet service in rural areas. Leahy’s amendment was approved in a vote of 48 to 38, just before the Senate gave final passage to the Farm Bill in a vote of 66 to 27.

Leahy said, “Next generation gigabit networks have the potential to transform rural areas. Rural America has so much to offer, but without the great equalizer of high-speed Internet, rural communities cannot live up to their full potential. Investing in next generation networks now will help ensure that rural areas do not fall even farther behind.”

Leahy’s pilot program will allow the Rural Utilities Service to invest in up to five ultra-high speed networks in rural areas over the next five years. Leahy believes Vermont would be an excellent candidate for one of the projects. Gigabit Internet speeds are approximately 100 times faster than the average high-speed Internet connection. High profile gigabit projects, including the Google Fiber project in Kansas City, are bringing public awareness to the capabilities of the next generation of broadband networks.

Leahy is the most senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

In the House, Austin Scott (GA-08) is on the Agriculture Committee. Sanford Bishop (GA-02) and Jack Kingston (GA-01) are on the House Appropriations Committee and Bishop is on its Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, etc. Subcommittee. If they represent rural south Georgia, they need to help get the House to pass Sen. Leahy’s amendment as part of the Farm Bill.