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Struggling to connect to the internet? There is a lot at stake in the proposed infrastructure bill

Computer laptop typing internet working
Posted at 5:19 PM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 17:19:53-04

FULTON COUNTY, Penn. — When you think of "infrastructure reform" you probably think of roads, bridges or maybe the occasional train.

The White House wants you to think about those areas and more when the word "infrastructure" appears.

THE PLAN

In the American Jobs Plan, $100 billion is allocated for broadband improvements.

The White House estimates 35% of rural America has poor or insufficient access to high speed internet.

President Biden wants 100% nationwide access by 2030.

In order to pay for it, as well as trains and roads, corporate taxes would be raised from 21% to 28%.

While Democrats and Republicans agree on improving broadband access, the debate is over how it is paid for, with Republicans not wanting to touch the corporate tax rate.

IMPACT ON RURAL AMERICA

About 14,000 people live in and around Fulton County, Pennsylvania.

The views are great, but the internet is not.

"For me, I can’t do anything online. It just doesn’t connect," Reuben Knepper, an 8th grader in McConnellsburg said.

While Knepper has adequate internet access at school, when he goes home he struggles.

It's not that his parents can't afford it, it is simply not offered.

In fact, the independent research group BroadbandNow says only 47% of residents in Fulton County have access to appropriate internet.

The FCC defines "appropriate internet" as at least 25 mbps.

As a result, young Rueben is forced to do his homework in the school parking lot.

"Normally I just spend hours and hours here at school doing it," Knepper said.

"It would just make my life a lot easier if I can do it while I am at the house," Knepper added.

For the school principal, it's a problem. When remote learning was in place, she couldn't live stream lessons like other school districts.

"Because of our broadband, that’s just not an option for us," Dr. Christina Ramsey said.

"I think the biggest thing is to have our students have access and have it be fair and equal across the board," Ramsey added.