Like many of you, I spend a lot of time on my Blackberry and computer both at work and home. I use this access for business, for play, and a host of other applications that I can’t imagine living without.
However there are many parts of rural America that lack access to this technology and so the Obama Administration is investing in rural infrastructure across the country in unserved or underserved areas.
Today I was in Kingfisher, Okla. delivering a national funding announcement for the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program. I also had the chance to speak with employees at the Pioneer Telephone Cooperative and to see a demonstration on broadband technology being deployed throughout rural Oklahoma. Pioneer is a recipient of Rural Broadband funding that was made available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. To reach the rural parts of western Oklahoma, Pioneer will be building a fixed wireless broadband network that will extend from Kansas to the Texas border and eventually encompass 21,472 households, 2,063 businesses and 291 other community services providers.
Pioneer staff shared how important broadband access is to rural areas with a story from their initial installations. They talked about a wife who had a husband serving in Iraq and how she had limited connectivity with him. After installing the latest broadband technology at their rural home the husband and wife were about to connect over the internet via Skype.
Ultimately, we are making these investments because we are committed to revitalizing rural America. Getting a first-hand look at some of the technology USDA is helping to make possible really drives home the importance of continuing that commitment.
Toni Pickle (Right) Rural Education Manager for Pioneer Telephone Cooperative, Accepts a certificate from Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. Pioneer was the recipient of a USDA Rural Economic Development Grant which will be used to help furnish a clinic in Kingfisher, Oklahoma.