More about the Rural Broadband Policy Group

As initiatives to close the digital divide are designed and implemented, the Federal Communications Commission, state, and local representatives must include rural voices in policy conversations. Rural communities are consumers and providers of Internet service, producers of content, and architects of the digital future.

  • Efforts to increase national access and deployment should reflect the concerns, interests, and vision of rural communities.
  • Rural residents should influence the development of broadband technology in a way that benefits and complements their everyday lives and the future of their communities.

Rural Broadband Principles

Any discussion of broadband and Internet policy for rural communities should begin here:

  1. Communication is a human right.
    The United Nations recently declared Internet Access a Human Right. Lack of broadband denies rural areas the human right to communicate. Without broadband, rural communities are further isolated from economic and civic participation. Broadband is no longer a luxury but a vital service necessary to participate fully in our nation’s democracy, economy, culture, and society. 
  2. Rural America is diverse.
    Rural America is diverse in terrains, cultures, foods, peoples, and knowledge. There is no one-size-fits-all broadband solution for connecting rural communities. Therefore, the diversity of rural America must be at the forefront of national broadband policies.
    Policies should support diverse technologies, encourage locally produced content, use adequate data collection methods, and respect the unique characteristics of each rural community. 
  3. Local ownership and investment in community is the priority.
    Local ownership of broadband infrastructure and service can address access, affordability, deployment, lack of competition, limited provider choice, open access, digital literacy, and data collection – problems ignored by big telecommunications corporations. Policies that prioritize local ownership invest in the success of community. When rural communities own local communications infrastructure, they boost the economy, create jobs, and are held accountable to make broadband accessible to every resident. 
  4. Network neutrality and open access are vital.
    Rural areas generally have less access to all forms of media, not just broadband. Therefore, open and unfiltered access to all information online is vitally important for rural communities. Democratic action, innovation, and basic liberty demand no less.

Organizations that are interested in more information about the Rural Broadband Policy Group may contact Marty Newell at the Center for Rural Strategies or sign up for our listserv.

Our ongoing organizational collaborators include: