Thirty-nine percent of rural Americans lack high-speed broadband, making the digital divide one of the largest demographic gaps in the country. Bringing reliable, affordable broadband to all rural Americans is a dire 21st century need. It’s time to connect all Americans, regardless of geographical location.

The coalition for Broadband Connects America is a diverse group of organizations representing the voice of rural America in the fight for affordable broadband and connectivity. Our goal is to close today’s unjust digital divide by ensuring reliable, consistent access to the internet and the economic opportunities it provides. 
Together we are working to guide policymakers in considering how best to fund rural broadband projects through a set of mutually agreed upon principles. These principles outline how to modernize high-speed broadband infrastructure, address complex access and affordability problems in diverse rural areas, and deploy new broadband infrastructure to best connect all Americans.

The Core Principles For Closing the Gap

Principle 1: Funding should be simple and allocated to encourage innovative funding models to meet infrastructure needs.

Policymakers should encourage investments in new funding and competition models, and ensure that taxpayer dollars are directed at improving broadband infrastructure in an efficient, cost-effective, and future-oriented manner. Funding should be directed to shared infrastructure in addition to particular carriers in order to allow federal and state governments to target dollars where needed, and to allow for efficient deployment of infrastructure that could serve multiple carriers.

Principle 2: Closing the rural digital divide will require a combination of approaches that reflects the complexity of the challenges of deploying broadband to rural America.

There is no silver bullet to closing the rural digital divide; it is going to require a technology-agnostic approach that addresses several adoption barriers, including access and affordability. Each combination approach should be crafted to address the unique challenges of the communities it aims to serve.

Principle 3: Broadband deployment should be focused on achieving tangible, affordable universal service to all rural Americans.

Millions of Americans are left without broadband because their geographic location is too remote to turn a profit. Instead, policies to promote rural broadband should ensure that all consumers in rural areas have access to affordable service, regardless of population density or physical terrain.

Principle 4: Restoring net neutrality is essential to closing the rural digital divide.

Strong net neutrality protections are critical to ensure ISPs don’t block websites or applications or slow down web traffic -- practices that would make rural broadband connections even less reliable and deepen the rural digital divide.

Principle 5: Rural Americans’ access to high-speed broadband should not be disadvantaged because of geography.

Bridging the digital divide and connecting rural America will require the same standards for service or deployment that are used in urban America. Without equivalent services, rural America will continue to be left behind.

Principle 6: An effective and equitable strategy must include parallel investment in community digital inclusion initiatives to help the least-connected rural residents acquire affordable high-speed broadband, affordable devices, and basic digital skills and support.

Even if broadband service becomes more widely available, lower-income rural households, like their counterparts in urban communities, are unlikely to adopt the high-speed broadband service they need if it is too expensive. Publicly subsidized, rural broadband providers must offer affordable options for low-income households. Public investments in rural broadband infrastructure must be accompanied by funding for community digital inclusion initiatives in order to ensure that the entire public can benefit from the federal investments.

Coalition Partners

Get in touch to share your story, join the coalition, or ask questions!