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Letter: Affordable broadband vital to development

To the editor, Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal highlighted the "digital divide" between rural and urban America. According to the article, about 39 percent of rural Americans lack access to high-speed internet, compared to just 3 perc...

To the editor,

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal highlighted the "digital divide" between rural and urban America. According to the article, about 39 percent of rural Americans lack access to high-speed internet, compared to just 3 percent of Americans living in urban areas.

In several ways, North Dakota has made great progress in developing its rural broadband infrastructure. We have the highest percent of population with access to fiber-optic internet of any state in the Midwest, according to the Council of State Governments.

There is still work to do, both in North Dakota and across the country. We should strive to have policies that encourage investment, aid consumers and help providers meet the needs of their communities. When infrastructure policy is being discussed in Washington and Bismarck, leaders should recognize that broadband is a crucial part of this.

Many different sectors of the economy benefit from having robust and affordable internet access, including healthcare, education, agriculture and e-commerce. Areas without adequate coverage will struggle to get new businesses to open and grow there. In North Dakota, increasing rural residents' access to the internet will help to diversify the economy and

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improve quality of life.

The importance of connectivity will only increase as the economy continues to advance into the 21st century. Rural areas can't afford to be left behind.

Sean Cleary

Grand Forks

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