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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Access Humboldt
- Akaku Maui Community Media
- American Indian Policy Institute at Arizona State University
- Benton Foundation
- Brian Whitacre
- California Center For Rural Policy
- Campbell University
- Center for American Progress
- Center for Rural Strategies
- Citizens Connectivity Committee
- Communications Workers of America
- Connect Your Community Institute
- Full Color Future
- Institute for Local Self-Reliance
- Island Institute
- KRF Strategies LLC
- Maine Broadband Coalition
- National Consumer Law Center
- National Digital Inclusion Alliance
- National Hispanic Media Coalition
- National League of Cities
- Next Century Cities
- New America's Open Technology Institute
- Palmetto Care Connections
- Public Knowledge
- Rural Community Alliance
- Sharon Strover
- Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition
- South Central Alabama Broadband Cooperative District
- Southern California Tribal Digital Village Network
- South Carolina Office of Rural Health
- State of Connecticut Office of Consumer Council
- Swan Creek Strategies
- The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies
- Together for Hope
- Treacy Information Services
- University of Virginia
- Virginia Center for Innovative Technology
- Womble Bond Dickinson
Get in touch to share your story, join the coalition, or ask questions!