Commissioner Adams on internet task force
San Juan County Commissioner Bruce Adams has been selected as part of a national task force to study the lack of reliable broadband in the US. The National Association of Counties (NACo) formed the task force which is comprised of nearly three dozen county government officials from across the US.
Commissioner Adams is one of 33 commissioners nationwide and one of a half dozen commissioners from western states. Adams said it’s an honor to represent Utah and other western states where he says the need and experiences are different from most of the task force members from states east of the Mississippi river.
“I was pretty happy to get asked to serve because we have such great needs in San Juan County as far as broadband is concerned,” Adams said.
A report from NACo found that 77-percent of rural US counties operate at internet speeds below FCC minimum standards. NACo President Gary Moore has made developing broadband throughout all the 33,000 counties in the US a priority for 2021.
“Our new task force will examine the intersection of public and private sector efforts to deploy broadband networks and create a blueprint for local governments to help bridge the digital divide,” said Task Force Co-Chair J.D. Clark, the county judge in Wise County, TX.
Local governments often face state-imposed limitations to expanding access to broadband connectivity. In 22 states, local governments are restricted from making investments in broadband infrastructure networks. NACo is working to pass federal legislation that would remove those barriers and expand broadband access.
Lack of reliable broadband is a major barrier to socioeconomic opportunity, education, health and overall quality of life. Without access to high-speed internet, many rural communities are isolated and left behind. A 2018 study conducted by Microsoft concluded that 19 million rural Americans do not use broadband, largely due to a lack of access. For these small communities, broadband can serve as a lifeline, connecting students to online degrees and connecting sick patients to medical consultation that is locally unavailable.
High-speed internet is also consistently identified as a top challenge facing small businesses in rural America and stifles entrepreneurship by limiting the ability of individuals to take on independent work. In this economy, broadband is critical to building resilient and future ready communities.