Rural Groups Applaud FCC Rural Broadband Trials Experiment

The National Rural Assembly's Rural Broadband and Policy Group has issued a press release in support of an FCC pilot program that will provide more opportunity for rural broadband providers to connect those hard-to-reach places.


Whitesburg, KY – This morning, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) announced a set of targeted voluntary experiments designed to collect data and information about the impact of the IP Transition on the public. The experiments will focus on how the values of universal service, public safety, consumer protections and competition can be “preserved and enhanced throughout technological change.”  Specifically, the FCC adopted the Rural Broadband Trials – an experiment that solicits proposals, from a wide range of entities, to bring advanced services to Rural America with support from the Connect America Fund.

Members of the Rural Broadband Policy Group (“RBPG”) applaud the FCC’s decision to adopt the Rural Broadband Trials experiment. The experiment opens the door for providers committed to rural communities to access funding to connect the unserved and close the digital divide. Today’s announcement is a major victory for rural consumers and rural broadband deployment.

According to the FCC’s 8th Broadband Progress Report, of the 19 million Americans that still cannot access fixed broadband networks, 14.5 million live in rural areas and a third in Tribal lands.

RBPG members are delighted to learn about the Rural Broadband Trials and look forward to working with the Commission in ensuring rural providers such as co-ops, municipalities, Tribal governments, anchor institutions, and non-profits, can take advantage of this historic opportunity, and rural voices are part of the technology conversations that impact their everyday lives.

The following statements can be attributed to members of the Rural Broadband Policy Group:

“This is a historic step by the FCC to empower underserved areas to meet their own broadband needs via ‘self-help’ tradition deeply rooted in rural America,” said Wally Bowen, founder of the nonprofit Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN) in Asheville, N.C.

"Rural Telephone and Electric Coops and other small municipal and nonprofit organizations have been the leaders in bringing broadband to our rural communities. We appreciate the FCC's recognition of their important role by including them in opportunities to participate in the Rural Broadband Trials and Connect America funding,” said Mimi Pickering, member of the Central Appalachia Regional Network (CARN).

“Access Humboldt applauds the FCC action today,” said Sean McLaughlin, Executive Director. “By extending program eligibility to local governments and other community anchors, the Rural Broadband Trials have the potential to support locally owned broadband media networks that build local capacity to serve public safety, health, education, media, economic development and civic engagement – targeting broadband deployment and sustainable adoption for some of the least served communities across the nation.”

“This is a an important step in closing the digital divide for remote rural communities. We thank the FCC for recognizing the need to expand funding options and provider opportunities,” said Connie Stewart, Executive Director of the California Center for Rural Policy.

Christopher Mitchell, Director of Telecommunications at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, said, “This is a great step for rural communities that have not been well served by existing providers. It recognizes that local, nonprofit based providers may be best positioned to meet the needs of local businesses and residents.”

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The Rural Broadband Policy Group is a national coalition of rural broadband advocates with two goals: 1) to articulate and promote telecommunications policies that create opportunities for rural communities to participate fully in the nation’s economy, culture and democracy, and 2) to encourage national collaboration among rural advocates for fast, affordable, and reliable Internet.