Exclusive—Rep. Marsha Blackburn on Trump’s Broadband Order: ‘You Cannot Have a First-World Economy with a Third-World Internet’

Marsha Blackburn
AP

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) praised President Donald Trump’s executive order expanding rural broadband in an exclusive interview with Breitbart News, saying, “You cannot have a first-world economy with a third-world Internet.”

President Donald Trump signed an executive order expanding broadband to rural America on Monday.

“Those towers are going to go up, and you are going to have great, great, broadband,” Trump said on Monday during a speech for the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Congresswoman Blackburn told Breitbart News that rural Americans everywhere need high-speed internet to have their communities prosper.

Blackburn said, “We are so pleased to see the president go ahead and sign the executive order, this is one of the things that I have worked with so many Tennessee county officials, mayors, and community members. They have talked about the barriers to entry in the high-speed Internet. One of those has been the difficulty and the cost of going through the myriad of permitting process as well as the cost of towers and. For the president to say let’s get busy and remove these barriers is a good step forward.”

Rep. Blackburn continued, explaining that she will introduce legislation to facilitate broadband expansion in rural America.

“Now, it is up to us to move forward on the legislative part of that agenda. We are working on these bills, we have four resolutions that we will introduce, we will focus on innovation and cutting red tape, as well as promoting public safety,” the Tennessee congresswoman argued.

Blackburn, who serves as he House Communications and Technology Subcommittee chairman, explained that Internet service providers (ISPs) have to jump through onerous federal, state, and local permitting hurdles to bring broadband to rural America. Rep. Blackburn contends that Trump’s new executive order, as well her committee’s subsequent legislation, will make this process easier and more efficient.

Rep. Blackburn told Breitbart News, “The president’s executive order will simplify the permitting process. Right now, communities will say there’s too many state, local, and federal permitting and they have too many different hoops to jump through. This makes it very difficult to supply voice, data, and Internet services to their communities. They are thinking, ‘make this simpler’ and more cost-effective so that at the end of the day it is a more efficient process.”

Congresswoman Blackburn continued, “On the innovation side, we want to make sure that we do not choose winners and losers. The legislation that we bring forward will be technology neutral so that individuals can bring Internet through wireline, or fiber, or wireless, or fixed-wireless, or satellite, they will be able to do that. This will bring more opportunities for them to meet their needs in the most cost-effective way.”

Rep. Blackburn explained to Breitbart News some of the unique challenges that rural America faces without high-speed Internet. Federal Communications Chairman (FCC) Ajit Pai calls this disparity between rural and urban America the “digital divide,” which he also promised to end.

Chairman Pai praised the order in a tweet, saying, “Two important @WhiteHouse executive orders issued today by @POTUS seek to promote high-speed Internet access in rural America. Addressing this critical issue will go a long way toward closing the #digitaldivide.”

Blackburn contended, “The economy is one of the things … we cannot have the jobs, we cannot grow our economic base, we cannot grow our manufacturing base, we cannot grow out logistics center, we cannot have call centers if we do not have high-speed Internet. Second is the need for public safety. Our law enforcement officers, we want our officers to have next generation 911, to be able to utilize the concepts that we get with increased wireless access. It becomes a public safety issue in areas with no cellular service at all.”

The Tennessee congresswoman told Breitbart News, “We are struggling to keep our rural hospitals open. Instead, we need to use telemedicine and remote monitoring concepts. In order to do that, we need high-speed Internet. They can use these platforms to help triage somebody and to give them the most effective care, and perhaps transport them to a facility. It’s a time saver and therefore a life-saver. The fourth thing is for education. In my district, I have some parents that tell they have to get in a van after supper at night and drive [their kids] back into town at night to a hospital parking lot or a McDonald’s parking or a library parking lot where they can get a wireless signal so that they can work. They would like that in their community and their home so that their kids can do homework. Likewise, adults that are doing workforce redevelopment and job development often say that they cannot stream these videos without high-speed Internet.”

Rep. Blackburn concluded, “The district I represent is a rural county. It has 19 counties in it and they say, ‘Marsha we want that first best, economy, and we cannot do it without a third-world economy internet.’ You cannot have a first-world economy with a third world internet.”

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