The Divide: State Rep. Deb Ruggiero on fighting for broadband in Rhode Island4/19/2022
In this episode, we hear from Rhode Island State Representative Deborah Ruggiero. Rep. Ruggiero made some news when Cox Communications announced that it would invest $120 million to build fiber and expand its network in the state – prompting the representative and her colleagues to release a statement about the incumbent's years of underinvestment.
She joins the podcast to discuss the state of broadband access in the state of Rhode Island, what's holding up progress and why she is fighting to pass a bill that would establish a broadband council at the state level.
[Ed. note: Rep. Ruggiero launched a campaign to run for lieutenant governor of Rhode Island shortly after this conversation was recorded.]
Here are just a few topics discussed in this episode:
- Background on broadband in Rhode Island (01:15)
- Dismantling of Rhode Island's broadband office and why Rep. Ruggiero is promoting a bill to establish a broadband advisory council (04:37)
- Lobbyist influence on Rhode Island broadband policy (08:03)
- Public perception of the digital divide and the need for a broadband council (09:48)
- Her view on how federal infrastructure funds should be used in the state (14:16)
- Cox investment prompts Rhode Island reps to push for broadband council
- Ruggiero, Carson, Cortvriend question whether Cox investment is more than PR stunt (press release, March 16)
- New playbook guides states on getting grants and funding fiber
- The Divide: Rep. Drew Hansen on passing Washington's Public Broadband Act
— Nicole Ferraro, site editor, Broadband World News; senior editor, global broadband coverage, Light Reading. Host of "The Divide" on the Light Reading Podcast.