Crisis in Rural Broadband Requires More Investment, says Rural Advocate

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Communicating for America organization seeks more help to solve the digital crisis in U.S.

Communicating for America

According to the Federal Communications Commission, 39 percent of rural people don’t meet even the minimal standard of ‘broadband.’

The recent $97 million investment by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to improve broadband infrastructure in rural America is a “crucial and much-appreciated step” in addressing the rural broadband crisis, says Jeff Smedsrud, CEO of public policy organization Communicating for America (CA).

“But there’s an immense amount of work to do to get even close to rural/urban broadband equity,” Smedsrud said.

“America has a digital divide, with rural people far behind in high-speed internet access,” he said. “The result is inequity in economic opportunities, health care delivery and delivery of high-tech education.”

Smedsrud praised USDA’s investment of $97 million to improve or provide rural broadband service in 11 states through its Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program and Community Connect Grant Program.

Smedsrud said, “According to the Federal Communications Commission, 39 percent of rural people don’t meet even the minimal standard of ‘broadband.’ Business formation and remote employment, or telecommuting, are constricted without high-speed internet access.”

Human Right

“Our organization believes the opportunity to communicate has become a fundamental human right in American society,” Smedsrud said. “Without broadband, rural communities are isolated from opportunities for economic and civic participation.”

He said the FCC, USDA and Congress should jointly address the crisis, saying the digital divide between rural and urban residents is too vast for the USDA, alone, to handle.

“In addition to the obvious tragedy of leaving rural people out of the economic benefits of high-speed internet, there are serious health impacts,” he said. “With doctor shortages and closure of rural hospitals, rural residents vitally need technology such as ‘telemedicine’ to access health care.”

CA, a membership organization with agricultural roots, advocates for rural people and their rights for economic justice.    

Link to a summary of CA’s public policy study.

About Communicating for America
Communicating for America, Inc. (CA) is a nationwide nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that represents about 100,000 small businesses, self-employed and agricultural members across America. Since 1972 CA has been working on small business, tax, healthcare and agricultural policy issues on behalf of its members. For more information visit

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Colleen McGuire
Colleen McGuire Communications
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