Kansas Rural Center Expresses Support of Local Broadband in Response to Senate Bill that Would Favor Outside Corporations
February 6, 2014 – The Kansas Rural Center (KRC) applauds the decision to postpone indefinitely a hearing on Kansas Senate Bill 304, which would prohibit cities and counties from building public broadband networks.
According to the Wichita Eagle, Sen. Julia Lynn, R-Olathe, chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, postponed the hearing indefinitely due to “concerns” she had heard in the previous week, and to provide industry representatives with time to gather public input.
“SB 304 appears to be a major step backward in the efforts of Kansas and our local communities to grow our own future in ways that best suit local needs,” said Julie Mettenburg, executive director of KRC.
Adds longtime KRC board member and rural advocate Charlie Griffin, Manhattan: “This will have the effect of putting rural citizens of our state in the hands of large-scale commercial providers, who may have little reward for provision of the excellent service coverage needed.”
Rural areas often lack the critical mass to attract big national providers and present many barriers to successful system development. As has been the case with rural telephone providers, it often requires partnerships and creativity to bring in effective access.
The accessibility of broadband internet connection is central to rural economic development and community development strategies. It has been a vital aspect of rural telemedicine/telehealth strategies across our nation, efforts that bridge professional resources which are often in short supply outside urban communities with needs in rural communities. These bridges provided by accessible broadband fuel local development opportunities and maintain local health services’ very existence.
These efforts often depend on local government cooperation or in some cases are the responsibility of state and local governments, such as the health and human service provision.
In addition, broadband internet connection is crucial given the rapidly developing role of technology in agricultural production systems. The need for connections from the combine or tractor cab or the computer on the farm kitchen cabinet to mass data systems is growing rapidly.
The Kansas Rural Center is a non-profit organization that since 1979 has promoted the long-term health of the land and its people through research, education and advocacy that advances economically viable, ecologically sound, and socially just food and farming systems.
Through KRC, Kansas citizens can stay up-to-date with issues that matter to them by subscribing to our weekly in-depth report from the Statehouse, Legislative & Policy Watch.