Expert Alert

Broadband access for rural health

Portrait of Professor Henning-Smith standing outside of a brick building
Associate Professor Carrie Henning-Smith

On June 26, President Biden announced how $42.5 billion will be distributed across the country to expand access to broadband internet. Minnesota is expected to receive $652 million in funding, with the goal to provide high-speed internet access to all by 2030. 

School of Public Health Associate Professor Carrie Henning-Smith has written and testified before Congress about the importance of high-speed internet access for rural health. 

Carrie Henning-Smith, Ph.D.

“High-speed broadband internet matters for access to health care, but also to employment, educational opportunities, goods and services and social interaction.”

“Rural communities face inequities in accessing broadband internet and this new funding will help to address those by expanding broadband connectivity across the country. However, it is not enough to simply provide broadband connections; we must also ensure that broadband access is affordable and dependable and that people have the devices and skills with which to meaningfully use it.”

“This funding includes specific provisions for affordability, reliability, devices, skills and support for broadband internet use. Going forward, it will be important to monitor the impact of this funding on current inequities in rural connectivity and, ultimately, rural residents' health and well-being.”

Carrie Henning-Smith is deputy director of the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center, co-director of the University of Minnesota Rural Health Program and an associate professor in the Division of Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Her research focuses on social drivers of health, access to care, and aging and long-term care.

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