Rural Groups Applaud FCC Proposal for Higher Download Broadband Speed and Want to See Higher Upload Speed

Whitesburg, KY – This morning, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) announced its proposal to increase the definition of broadband from 4 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload to 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload as a condition for carriers to receive Connect America Fund subsidies.

Members of the Rural Broadband Policy Group (“RBPG”) applaud the adoption of a faster download speed, but see room for improvement in the upload speed requirement.

RBPG members support the FCC’s proposal to increase the download speed standard in our country, making our nation more competitive in the global market with higher speeds. Rural advocates also want to see a higher upload speed, preferably adopting a symmetrical speed.

According to the FCC’s 8th Broadband Progress Report, of the 19 million Americans that still cannot access fixed broadband networks at the current 4 Mbps down 1 Mbps up speeds, 14.5 million live in rural areas and a third in Tribal lands.

The following statements can be attributed to members of the Rural Broadband Policy Group:

“We are grateful that the FCC continues to adjust minimum download speeds, we hope that in the near future they will take a closer look at upload speeds.  Current upload speeds are not adequate for online testing for students, prosperous economic development or quality health care in rural communities,” said Connie Stewart, Executive Director of the California Center for Rural Policy.

Christopher Mitchell, Director of Telecommunications at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, said,

 “Local needs for Internet access have already surpassed the broadband definition for both download and upload capacity. Updating the definition of broadband is a smart decision, and should be done for both uploads and downloads.”

“Acknowledging the increased speed that is needed to benefit from the Internet is important for rural as well as urban communities and will show how far we have to go. Upload speeds also need to be increased so that we can actually participate in the digital world," said Mimi Pickering from the Appalshop Community Media Initiative.

“Raising the broadband bar is a step forward, but we'd prefer to see a move toward symmetry - because reaching audiences 'downstream' is one thing, but giving communities an equal 'upstream' voice will require much greater and more balanced capacity,” said Sean McLaughlin, Executive Director of Access Humboldt.

“Raising the bar on download speeds is long overdue for rural and underserved populations. However, failing to raise the upload speeds penalizes content producers and local economies, specially in rural America,” said Wally Bowen, Founder of Mountain Area Information Network in Asheville, North Carolina. “ Still, this new broadband definition is a good first step.” 

#####

The Rural Broadband Policy Group is a national coalition of rural advocates with two goals: 1) to articulate national telecommunications policies that allow rural communities to participate fully in our nation’s culture, economy, and democracy, and 2) to encourage collaboration among rural advocates for expanding fast, affordable, and reliable Internet.

 

For more information about the RBPG, please contact
Edyael Casaperalta, Coordinator
Visit us at ruralassembly.org/broadband


8 Rural Groups Tell the FCC to Allocate Spectrum for Rural Areas

Today, 28 groups serving rural communities sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission encouraging the Commission to adopt spectrum aggregation limits, take steps to ensure that the largest carriers do not control the majority of spectrum, and protect unlicensed spectrum. The groups believe these recommendations, if adopted, will help make spectrum available for providers prioritizing service to rural areas. The effort was coordinated by the Rural Broadband Policy Group.

 

To read the letter, click here.


How to submit an Expression of Interest to the FCC Rural Broadband Trials Program

Submit an Expression of Interest* before the March 7 deadline.

Sample "Expression of Interest" for Prospective Internet Providers
Sample "Expression of Interest" for Community Advocates

On January 30th, the Federal Communications Commission announced the Rural Broadband Experiments – an initiative soliciting proposals to bring high-speed Internet service to Rural America. For the first time, cooperatives, municipalities, nonprofits, anchor institutions, and Tribal governments are able to access federal funding to bring broadband service to rural areas.

This is a historic opportunity for rural advocates and entities committed to closing the digital divide in rural communities.

The Rural Broadband Policy Group of the National Rural Assembly hosted a webinar where Jonathan Chambers, Chief of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis, talked about how advocates, Internet providers, and anchor institutions can participate in the experiments. Interested parties were asked to submit an “Expression of Interest” by March 7th. You can listen to the entire Webinar.

The FCC will determine the amount of funding to allocate in the Rural Broadband Experiments based on the number of Expressions of Interest submitted.

Deadline to submit an Expression of Interest is March 7th, 2014

Whether you are an interested Internet provider or a concerned community advocate, the RBPG highly encourages you to submit an Expression of Interest.

Below you can find sample Expressions of Interest* and where to file your EOI:

For more information on how to file, please contact Edyael Casaperalta, RBPG Coordinator, at edyael@ruralstrategies.org.

*The sample expressions of interest were not created by lawyers nor approved by the FCC.