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Window of Opportunity for Rural Broadband Policy

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Window of Opportunity for Rural Broadband Policy

McDonald’s parking lots are filling up, and not just for the dollar menu. Students and adults alike are taking advantage of their free Wi-Fi to telework or conduct e-learning. This is the only solution for many due to the lack of strong, reliable, and affordable internet connectivity.

Roberto Gallardo is the Assistant Director of the Purdue Center for Regional Development and a public policy scholar. He says the conversation about broadband connectivity will change as a result of this pandemic.

“It’s bubbling up at the county commissioners and at all levels of government. It is becoming kind of, ‘Okay. This is a problem.’ I think this will just put it on steroids. Really, it’s going to just send it over the moon.”

Gallardo says in public policy you have policy windows. This is a window of opportunity that needs to be taken advantage of.

“I think that once the public health situation is under control, it’ll be glaring to see who really missed out and why did they miss out or why did they suffer more. Why were they more at risk or why were they more vulnerable? I think at that point the conversation will be, ‘Okay. What happened? Everybody got affected, but why? Oh my, its connectivity.’”

Gallardo told Hoosier Ag Today about a study that shows you can get fiber to mostly everybody for between $130-$150 billion dollars. To put it into perspective, that’s around 7.5% of the $2 trillion aid package passing through Congress right now.

“I think it’s ‘affordable’, it’s just a matter of is it a priority.”

Gallardo encourages those in rural communities to help make this a priority by speaking with your elected officials.