WAVERLY HALL, Ga. (WRBL) – Senator Raphael Warnock stopped in Waverly Hall as part of a tour to raise awareness about the importance of internet access in rural areas.

Affordable and accessible broadband has become an issue in rural and low-income communities. Senator Warnock spoke to employees of WaveCom—a local communication company—about their ideas for providing broadband to citizens in rural and low-income areas of Georgia, as well as across the United States.

Operations Supervisor Dillon Watson told WRBL News 3 this meeting is a step in the right direction.

“This is important for the people here because obviously broadband, like Senator Warnock said, it’s becoming a utility. You can’t do anything without it, especially in rural Georgia,” Watson said.

Because of the inaccessibility of broadband, several schools were forced to close their doors. WaveCom came up with several programs to make internet access affordable for students who were still in school.

“We went through many hurdles just through the pandemic, in general, to get all the customers subscribed, who would begin working from home, who would begin schooling from home,” Watson said.

Senator Warnock believes Waverly Hall showcases the need affordable and accessible broadband internet.

“This community is an example of how much more work we’ve got to do to build up rural broadband. Increasingly we’ve got to think about rural broadband as a kind of utility, and the pandemic really brought that into sharp focus,” Warnock said.

Rural broadband has been addressed to a certain extent, $7.1 billion had been set aside in the American Rescue Plan. But Warnock said a lot more must be done.

“This is critical for a lot of families here in Georgia, we’ve got 10% Georgians who have virtually no real connection to broadband. 38% of our citizens depend on one company for broadband connections and I’m seeing this clearly as I move across the state,” Warnock said.