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Leaders call for broadband expansion in rural Michigan

The Blue Water Chamber of Commerce today joined Custer Township Supervisor John Knoerr and St. Clair Commission Chairman Jeffery Bohm to call on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in Washington, D.C., to expand access to hi-speed mobile broadband service across St. Clair County and Michigan's entire thumb region. They cited recent studies that found access to broadband significantly benefits rural communities and their ability to create desperately needed new jobs.

The FCC is considering a proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile that, if approved, would provide access to high-speed mobile broadband service to a vast majority of thumb area businesses, farmers and families.

"Access to hi-speed internet allows job makers across the thumb to do business across the world," said Vickie Ledsworth, Blue Water Chamber of Commerce president. "Broadband has the ability to connect our region, from local businesses to farmers and families. But today, too few residents and small businesses in the thumb have the sort of access they need to truly participate in the 21st century economy."

According to the Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA), a coalition supporting broadband access and adoption for all Americans, broadband is the bridge that ties rural localities to the economic mainstream.

"The internet is the most important tool businesses can have in the global marketplace," said St. Clair Commission Chairman Jeffery Bohm. "Job makers in St. Clair county are not just competing with each other, they are competing with the rest of the world. The AT&T, T-Mobile merger will empower them to grow, expand and thrive."

President Barack Obama recently set a national goal of ensuring 98 percent of Americans have broadband internet access within the next five years. The proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile alone will bring next generation mobile broadband access to more than 97 percent of the nation's population using private — not taxpayer — dollars, 98 percent of Michigan's population.

The IIA recently released research further detailing the ways broadband can help rural Michigan. According to IIA, the 10 biggest ways broadband access helps rural communities include:

  • Broadband links local businesses to global markets.
  • Allows consumers to tap into e-commerce savings.
  • Expands access to educational opportunities.
  • Increases local job growth.
  • Connects patients to world class healthcare and reduces healthcare costs.
  • Enhances economic options for younger generations.
  • Provides new tools to farmers and ranchers to grow their businesses.
  • Enables entrepreneurs to locate their businesses locally.
  • Attracts customers to local businesses.
  • Offers families low cost options to stay in touch using the latest technology.

"By approving the merger between AT&T and T-Mobile, the FCC can all but meet the president's commendable goal," said Custer Township Supervisor John Knoerr. "Broadband access connects our communities and helps create jobs. The FCC must act quickly to help move rural communities across Michigan and the rest of the United States more quickly into the 21st century economy."

(Note: This report is provided as a service to our readers and a service to the group or individual mentioned in the release. Usually, only minor editing is done. The group or individual is responsible for all information provided.)

 

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