FCC chairman wants to bring high-speed internet to rural Kansas

EMPORIA, Kan. (WIBW) - Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission wants to make sure rural Kansas isn't left in the dark ages of internet.

"Having grown up in Kansas I'm keenly aware that there are many communities like Parsons, my hometown, that might be on the wrong side of the digital divide and so we want to make sure we close that gap," he said.

Thursday afternoon Pai came to Emporia State University to listen to local leaders and regional broadband experts - and to discus the looming challenge of bringing high-speed internet to far-away towns and farms.

"Just having him come and listen to what our concerns are and even to answer some questions I think is a huge thing and it helps the community work together to be all at the table at the same time," said Ed Bashaw, the dean of ESU's School of Business.

A big tool the FCC toolbox uses to serve rural communities is simply providing resources.

"We've been focusing that funding on unserved parts of the country," Pai said.

That funding helps lay miles of fiber-optic cables and build high-tech broadband equipment.

"It's a game-changer for American families," Pai said.

"Especially some of these folks here in rural communities here in Kansas, it doesn't matter who you are or where you happen to live, you have just as much opportunity to succeed in the digital economy as anybody else."