Heroes Act includes rural broadband funding

Published: May. 19, 2020 at 6:04 PM EDT
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A $3 trillion COVID-19 relief package approved by the U.S House this week but stalled in the GOP-controlled Senate includes a plan to expand broadband in rural areas including Vermont.

Rep. Peter Welch joined a group of democrats supporting the inclusion of broadband investment in the response package. The goal is to deliver affordable, high-quality internet access to all Americans.

Welch held a Zoom roundtable Tuesday to discuss the federal efforts to support broadband in Vermont. He compared it to the effort to bring electricity to rural parts of the country in the 1930s.

"It was a decision that was made collectively and we implemented it over time and we achieved the goal of rural electrification. The internet is very much the same. It is not a luxury. It is not optional. It is existential," Welch said.

Welch says increased broadband access would help Vermont students and businesses as well as doctors and patients who need reliable internet for telehealth services.