Internet to Rural America, Achieving Universal Broadband
Highlights AT&T-T-Mobile merger as a solution to broadband build-out gap identified by new FCC-USDA report
WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 24, 2011 – The Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA), a broad-based coalition supporting broadband access and adoption for all Americans, particularly increased mobile connectivity for underserved and rural communities, today issued the following statement on a new report, entitled “Bringing Broadband to Rural America: Update to Report on a Rural Broadband Strategy,” released by The Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Federal Communication Commission (FCC):
“Expanding high-speed Internet access and adoption has been a top priority of the IIA for many years, and Rural America is home to a significant number of the broadband have-nots. As revealed by the joint USDA-FCC report, nearly one-third (28%) of rural residents still lack access to Internet speeds that accommodate the demands of today’s business world and enable advanced opportunities related to jobs, health care and education. Closing this divide will improve individual lives and strengthen our nation as a whole.
“We applaud the Commission for placing focus on the Obama Administration’s goal of connecting 98 percent of Americans to broadband within five years and recognizing that ‘more needs to be done’ – in addition to ‘ongoing loan and grant programs’ administered by USDA’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) and ‘regulatory reform measures and tools set forth by the FCC’ – to fulfill this objective of ‘widespread deployment of affordable, quality broadband services to every community.’ It is our belief that private sector investments and actions are also essential to driving rural broadband availability, in addition to these government efforts. For example, IIA Member AT&T’s proposed purchase of T-Mobile, which alone would bring broadband to more than 97 percent of Americans, would dramatically reduce the number of rural homes lacking broadband, leaving a far smaller gap to be filled by government funds, grants and loans.”