Articles

FCC Releases Report on Broadband for Rural America

"We have built out canals, bridges, electricity, telephone service, roads and highways. Now, with much history to learn from and with an array of technological resources at our disposal, we can and will do it again."

by / May 28, 2009

Over the past few years, the United States has begun to lag in the race to deploy broadband, especially in rural areas. However, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides $7.2 billion for broadband grants, loans and loan guarantees administered by the Agriculture and Commerce departments, and charges the FCC with completing a national broadband plan by next February.

To initiate that effort, The FCC just released a report -- Bringing Broadband to Rural America: Report on a Rural Broadband Strategy. In a release, the FCC called the 83-page report a "starting point for the development of policies to deliver broadband to rural areas and restore economic growth and opportunity for Americans residing and working in those areas."

Recommendations include:

  • Enhancing coordination among and between federal, tribal, state, and community agencies, governments and organizations
  • Reviewing existing federal programs to identify barriers to rural broadband deployment
  • Coordinating broadband program terminology consistent with current laws
  • Coordinating data collection and mapping efforts at the federal, tribal, and state levels to better inform the public and policymakers
  • Supporting consumer education and training initiatives to stimulate and sustain broadband demand
  • Identifying important policies and proceedings that support further broadband deployment such as universal service and network openness.

"Infrastructure deployment is something Americans do well," says the report, "it plays to our national strengths. We have built out canals, bridges, electricity, telephone service, roads and highways. Now, with much history to learn from and with an array of technological resources at our disposal, we can and will do it again."

Wayne Hanson Senior Executive Editor, Center For Digital Government