Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Coalition aims to bring more broadband to rural America

"Eighteen rural, consumer, community media, tech rights, academic, and civil rights organizations have announced the launch of Broadband Connects America, a coalition dedicated to ensuring that all Americans have access to high-speed broadband," Philanthropy Digest reports. The coalition says it wants to guide policymakers on ways to best fund rural broadband.

About 39 percent of rural Americans lack high-speed internet, putting them at a disadvantage in everything from school and business to medical care. The coalition has outlined five core principles for closing the rural digital gap: 
  • Funding should be simple and allocated directly to infrastructure needs, not directly to last-mile carriers.
  • Closing the rural digital divide will require a combination approach that reflects the complexity of the challenges of deploying broadband to rural America.
  • Deployment should be focused on achieving tangible universal service to all rural Americans rather than allocated based on profit per population density.
  • Restoring net neutrality is essential to closing the rural digital divide.
  • Rural broadband should meet the same adequacy standards as its urban counterpart.
As the principles hint, the coalition essentially seeks to make an end-run around the huge telecoms that have thus far dominated rural broadband deployment, often providing slower service with outdated technology, Kieren McCarthy writes for internet-technology publication The Register.

The BCA coalition's members are: Public Knowledge, Access Humboldt, Akaku Maui Community Media, Axiom, Benton Foundation, Oklahoma State University Professor Brian Whitacre, California Center For Rural Policy, Center for Rural Strategies, Citizens Connectivity Committee, Full Color Future, Institute for Local Self-Reliance, National Consumer Law Center, National Digital Inclusion Alliance, National Hispanic Media Coalition, Next Century Cities, Rural Community Alliance- Arkansas, Tribal Digital Village Network, and X-Lab. The coalition encourages new members to join, especially local rural broadband organizations and advocates.

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