April 27, 2000: Working to Expand High-Speed Internet Access in Rural America


Wednesday, April 26, 2000


"We're here to tell you we believe that in rural North Carolina and in rural America, Internet access ought to be just as likely as telephone access…You ought to be able to use it in the fastest possible way…And if you can, it'll mean more jobs, more businesses, higher incomes and more opportunity."

President Bill Clinton
Wednesday, April 26, 2000

Today, as part of his Digital Divide New Markets trip, President Clinton visited Whiteville, North Carolina, where he highlighted the importance of providing broadband (high-speed) Internet access to rural communities. The President pointed out that in order to fully participate in the digital economy, rural communities like Whiteville need access to advanced telecommunications services. The President announced key public- and private-sector initiatives; held a roundtable discussion with high-tech CEOs, small business owners, and elected officials, including North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt and members of Congress; and spoke to the people of Whiteville about expanding digital opportunity to rural communities.

Broadband is Critical for Rural Economic Development. Telecommunications companies are beginning to provide broadband Internet access that is 10 to 100 times faster than today's Internet. This high-speed access is important to rural Americans for economic opportunity and lifelong learning and to rural businesses to provide distance learning to their employees, communicate electronically with their customers and suppliers, and participate in the rapidly growing business-to-business electronic marketplace.

Rural Communities Lack Affordable Access to Broadband. Despite the rapid expansion of the digital economy, many rural areas still face barriers to information technology:

A new report released today by the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture entitled “Advanced Telecommunications In Rural America” concludes that rural areas are lagging behind urban areas in the availability of broadband.

Key Initiatives Will Bring Digital Opportunity to Rural America. President Clinton recently issued a National Call to Action with the goals of providing 21st century learning tools for every child in every school, and creating digital opportunity for every American family and community. Today, the President announced several public- and private-sector initiatives aimed at reaching these goals by bridging the digital divide in rural America. Some of the highlights include:

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