Hope for rural communities

This past September, at the tail end of the legislative session, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) introduced a landmark bill to expand our high speed internet infrastructure: Rural Broadband Initiative Act of 2006 (S. 3999 | full-text).  Although it is narrowly focused on rural areas, this bill offers several policy prescriptions that are in line with the Speed Matters principles including the establishment of a Rural Broadband Innovation Fund, a mandatory annual report to the President and to Congress as to how to achieve comprehensive broadband deployment and the establishment of a Broadband Advisory Panel which would offer guidance as to how to facilitate broadband access as quickly as possible.

As Senator Clinton puts it:

We need to do more to increase access to broadband. The United States currently ranks 16th in the world in broadband deployment and rural communities simply can't continue to wait until rural broadband deployment becomes as economically viable as it is in our cities and suburbs.

This is an important measure to initiate dialogue between governmental agencies to find the best solutions and plans to help rural Americans gain access to high speed internet.

More from Sen. Clinton's office:

Broadband deployment has traditionally lagged in rural areas due to geography, population and lack of a viable market for large telecommunications companies. The Government Accountability Office has indicated that while about 30% of households in urban and suburban areas have access to broadband, only 17% of rural households have access.

We'll be following this bill closely, so be sure to check back for updates on its status and further explorations of its implications.

Senator Clinton's Press Release

Full text of S. 3999