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Solving the rural broadband problem

In the vastness of the Mountain States, where rugged landscapes and rural communities define the region, one pressing issue stands out; the lack of reliable broadband connectivity. With a significant percentage of these populations residing in remote areas, access to high-speed internet isn't just a convenience, it's a necessity for economic growth, education, and quality of life.

Yet, traditional solutions like laying fiber-optic cables across extensive territories pose fiscal challenges, especially for states with limited budgets and vast rural landscapes. However, amidst these obstacles lies an opportunity for innovation and collaboration, paving the way for a fiscally conservative approach to solving the rural broadband dilemma.

The state legislatures and broadband entities, rather than federal mandates, hold the key to unlocking broadband access in the Mountain States. This approach not only ensures fiscal responsibility but also fosters a sense of ownership and accountability among local stakeholders.

Take Wise County, Texas, for example. Faced with similar challenges of rural connectivity, Wise County embraced wireless technology, leveraging the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) to deliver high-speed internet without the hefty price tag of traditional fiber optics. Through a strategic public-private partnership, Wise County achieved remarkable results, transforming the digital landscape for its residents and businesses alike.

Inspired by Wise County's success, the Mountain States can chart a similar course toward bridging the rural broadband gap. By prioritizing innovative solutions and local empowerment, we can overcome the fiscal barriers that have long hindered progress in expanding broadband access.

Investing in wireless technologies like CBRS offers a potentially cost-effective alternative to fiber optics, providing scalable solutions that can reach even the most remote corners of our region. By embracing adaptability and resilience, we can ensure that no community is left behind in the digital age.

Policymakers can seize this opportunity to bridge the rural broadband gap and wisely learn from the example of Wise County, ensuring that every resident of Idaho, Washington, Montana, and Wyoming has access to the transformative power of high-speed internet. By empowering our counties, municipalities, and communities to lead the charge In helping states prepare "shovel-ready projects," we can achieve meaningful progress In broadband expansion, while staying true to our principles of fiscal conservatism.

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