Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Rural Broadband Policy Group Highlights

The Rural Broadband Policy Group is a growing national coalition of rural broadband advocates that emerged from the 2008 convening of the National Rural Assembly. This coalition recognizes the need for improved access and use of broadband in rural America, and it is working with policy makers, advocates, and local leaders to promote solutions.
The goals of the Rural Broadband Policy Group are:
  1. To articulate national broadband policies that provide opportunities for rural communities to participate fully in the nation's democracy, economy, culture, and society. 
  2. And to spark national collaboration among rural broadband advocates. 
Here is a brief recap of highlights and  of a few of their activities in 2012 and a look at what is underway for 2013, as reported in a recent e-newsletter:

  •  RVCC Rural Broadband Tales -- Collected stories from Conservation and Natural Resources Practitioners about why they need high-speed Internet and the challenges they face in getting access. Watch the video stories here. 
  •  Victory against Telephone Deregulation -- They expanded their state-level advocacy and got serious about making sure that powerful telcos did not cut rural people's phone lines. Working in collaboration with a broad coalition of dozens of consumers, low-income, elderly, and rural advocates including AARP, The Utility Reform Network (TURN) and Communications Workers of America (CWA), they engaged in extensive efforts across several states to defeat telephone deregulation bills. They defeated the harmful bills proposed in Kentucky and Ohio.
  •  Blogging It Up! -- Rural Strategies' Summer Intern took it upon himself to share with his opinion about the value of a rural phone landline. Read blog here. Also, in collaboration with Media Literacy Project, they deconstructed a misleading AT&T add claiming they were serving rural Texas. Read here!
  • True to our Rural Broadband Principle of prioritizing "Local Ownership and Investment in Community" they submitted comments to the California Public Utilities Commission encouraging them to open up the $50 million allocated in the California Advanced Services Fund to non-profits, municipalities, community organizations, co-ops, and local entities that can provide services to unserved areas and create local economic opportunities in rural.
For 2013, they are already planning webinars about the Impact of Telephone & Internet Deregulation on Rural Communities, comments to file at the FCC regarding AT&T's request to abandon rural telephone service, and more blogs about rural telehealth, the Internet & Conservation efforts, and what safety in an unreliable wireless world means for rural areas (especially when a natural disaster strikes).