WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan held a virtual event with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and New Hampshire community and business leaders to discuss the importance of broadband access and the historic investments in the bipartisan infrastructure deal for Granite State businesses and families.
“Thank you to Secretary Raimondo for joining us today – getting our economy back on track is one of the most important issues facing our country and no one is in a better position to help us do that than Secretary Raimondo. She has done incredible work over the course of her career to build an economy that works for everybody,” said Senator Hassan at today’s event.
Senator Hassan continued, “Granite Staters need broadband for work, for school, for accessing health services, connecting with their loved ones, and more, and businesses all across our state need high-speed broadband to grow and to thrive. We still know that, unfortunately, too many Granite Staters face challenges either accessing broadband or affording a truly reliable connection, and the pandemic really underscored the need to address both of these challenges. We need to build up our broadband infrastructure, and then we also need to ensure that all Granite Staters can get and afford a reliable broadband connection.”
“Senator Hassan has been an advocate for investments in broadband, especially rural broadband. She has brought attention to the necessity of broadband especially as it relates to telehealth and ensuring everyone in the Granite State can get access to reliable broadband,” said Secretary Raimondo. “The pandemic showed us how vital broadband is to our lives. From accessing school and work to connecting with your doctor or reaching out to loved ones – affordable, reliable broadband is something all Americans need and deserve. That is why President Biden made it clear that we needed a historic expansion of high-speed, affordable internet to every American through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal.”
“Thanks in large part to Senator Hassan’s work fighting for broadband investments throughout the negotiations, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal has $65 billion of investments in broadband to ensure every American has access to reliable high-speed internet and that we finally close the digital divide,” continued Secretary Raimondo. “Building out this infrastructure will also create good-paying jobs in communities that have been hard hit by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Participants included Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig, Executive Director of the NH Municipal Association Margaret Byrnes, GIS Specialist and Senior Planner of Monadnock Broadband Group’s Southwest Regional Planning Commission Henry Underwood, Town Administrator of the Town of Bristol Nik Coates, Member of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors Matt Cookson, WAN Engineer from the University System of New Hampshire Tony Bargardo, Vice President of Member Services and Public Affairs for the New Hampshire Electric Co-op Michael Licata, and Chris Rand, Vice President of Granite State Communications.
The discussion centered on the vital role of recent federal broadband investments in supporting economic growth. Recent COVID-19 relief packages that Senator Hassan helped pass into law included funding to support broadband infrastructure, $7 billion in funding for the E-Rate program to keep students online and learning remotely during the pandemic, and the broadband benefit program that helps eligible households afford internet service and devices. In addition, Senator Hassan is working to move forward the bipartisan infrastructure package that the Senate voted to advance. While this provision is still being negotiated, the bipartisan deal would include a $65 billion investment in broadband infrastructure and additional measures to help families afford internet service.