(Washington) -- Improving rural broadband access is the subject of two special events in Iowa's 3rd Congressional District Thursday.
Iowa Congresswoman Cindy Axne and FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel host roundtable discussions Thursday at 9:15 a.m. at the Warren County Economic Development Corporation in Indianola, and at 11 a.m. at Iowa State Extension in Winterset. Speaking on KMA's "Morning Line" program Wednesday morning, Axne says the roundtables are designed for local officials to discuss issues preventing high speed internet services from spreading into rural areas.
"Obviously, we know that we have places here in Iowa where folks aren't able to get access to the internet," said Axne, "leaving them at a disadvantage to them economically, leaving it very difficult for their children to get their homework done. We need to address this issue. To me, making sure that everyone is connected is the electrification of our times right now, so that everybody can work from an equal and level playing field."
Axne cites Winterset as a community combating the homework gap--or gap between the teachers who assign homework that requires the internet, and students who don't have broadband at home.
"What we do is they have businesses in the community, local businesses open their doors and provide decals to put in their windows, so students know they can come in and use their wifi to do their schoolwork," she said. "This is not the solution, but I think Winterset sets a good example of things. We want to do more--what we can do? So, it's great to be there, as well as in Indianola, to talk about the issues that people are facing."
Axne says lack of broadband internet capabilities also impacts farmers and small business owners.
"With farming, obviously, we use precision agriculture," said the congresswoman. "If you're unable to get the service that you need--the broadband that you need--you're not going to be able to compete. Certainly, with small businesses, they're having trouble locating in areas where they would like to be if they're across that broadband divide, where they might not have access to it. It's very difficult for any business today to really get up and running and stay successful without access to the internet."
You can hear the full interview with Cindy Axne on our "Morning Line" page at kmaland.com.