White House Broadband Report Highlights Challenges Facing Rural Communities

 

For Immediate Release

Contact: Laura Withers, 703-351-2086, lwithers@ntca.org
Wendy Mann, 703-351-2087, wmann@ntca.org

Arlington, Va. (June 14, 2013)–NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association today issued the following statement from Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield regarding the White House’s report about nationwide broadband deployment.

“The report released today does a good job of outlining the progress our country has made in recent years to bring high-speed connections to more Americans. But it also highlights the challenges facing rural communities and the very real and persistent ‘rural-urban divide’ in obtaining reasonably comparable access to broadband.

The path to overcome these challenges and cross this divide has become much more difficult for small rural carriers. For years, these hometown-based service providers led the charge in responsibly edging broadband out to consumers in the most rural parts of the country. But as the report shows, much more remains to be done if rural areas are to keep pace with the rest of America, and unfortunately, cuts in critical cost recovery mechanisms and lingering regulatory uncertainty in the wake of FCC changes to the federal Universal Service Fund a few years ago have had the effect of slowing down rural broadband investments. In fact, several national and state surveys paint a picture of stalled deployment due specifically to these factors.

If these undue and unfortunate cancellations and postponements drag on, they will mean fewer dollars flowing to rural communities for economic development and jobs. While it’s good to recognize how far we’ve come, this report also highlights how far we have to go—and the risks we face if rural broadband investment can’t be put back on track soon through sensible universal service policies.”

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NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association is the premier association representing nearly 900 independent, community-based telecommunications companies that are leading innovation in rural and small-town America. NTCA advocates on behalf of its members in the legislative and regulatory arenas, and it provides training and development; publications and industry events; and an array of employee benefit programs. In an era of exploding technology, deregulation and marketplace competition, NTCA’s members are leading the IP evolution for rural consumers, delivering technologies that make rural communities vibrant places in which to live and do business. Because of their efforts, rural America is fertile ground for innovation in economic development and commerce, education, health care, government services, security and smart energy use. Visit us at www.ntca.org.