As state and local officials across the country consider bills addressing broadband service and decide how to allocate funding received through the federal American Rescue Plan Act, a new white paper from the Center for Rural Affairs offers ideas and solutions for improving access in rural areas.
Molly Malone, senior policy associate for the Center, and author of “Access Granted: Rural Broadband Options, Obstacles, and Solutions” said broadband access is a topic of discussion in rural communities across the country and has only been exacerbated by the COVID19 pandemic.
“It’s an issue for everyone in one way or another, whether directly or via grandkids who struggle to connect to classes, employees who drop out of Zoom meetings, or simply an inability to look up a recipe on Google,” she said.
Malone said broadband access is no longer a matter of convenience and entertainment, but overall quality of life.
“Broadband is core infrastructure,” she said. “Without it, people cannot participate fully in our economy and society. If service is unavailable, unaffordable, unreliable, or weak, or has a long lag time, it can affect the viability of a community.”
Using examples, such as education, health care, economic development, and agriculture, the paper addresses the importance of reliable service, as well as connectivity options.
For more information or to view “Access Granted: Rural Broadband Options, Obstacles, and Solutions,” visit cfra.org/publications.