Individuals who primarily Reside in a Rural Area
Lumen is taking a different path forward than the other big telephone companies. The company announced a major upgrade to its long-haul fiber routes that cross the country. The company’s main fiber strategy is to beef up the intercity network with plans to add six million miles of fiber to existing fiber routes by 2026. The existing Lumen long-haul fiber network came to the company in two acquisitions. The original network came when CenturyLink bought US West, which had earlier merged with Qwest, a major builder of long-haul networks.
Nearly 172,000 Chicago households (over 15%) don’t have internet at home, and nearly 92,000 (roughly 8%) don’t have any device, including a computer, laptop, tablet, or smart mobile device.
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development's Office of Broadband Development (OBD) is developing a digital equity plan to create improvements in internet affordability, access to internet-enabled devices, and ways to provide digital skills training. We want to hear from Minnesotans most impacted by the digital access and skills gap to ensure our digital equity plan reflects the goals and needs of all Minnesotans. This plan will help us determine how to spend federal funding coming in 2024 aimed at increasing digital access and skills.
Sens Thune, Luján, Klobuchar, Fischer Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation to Increase Access to Rural Broadband
US Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM)—ranking member and chairman, respectively, of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband—and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Deb Fischer (R-NE) reintroduced the Rural Internet Improvement Act. This bipartisan legislation would streamline and bolster US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development broadband programs and ensure that their funding is being targeted to rural areas that need it the most.
The United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service seeks comment on its update of Rural eConnectivity Program (ReConnect Program) regulation to ensure that requirements are clear, accurate as presented, and in compliance with Federal reporting requirements. The changes to ReConnect rules include:
Charter President and CEO Chris Winfrey hopes to complete the company's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF)-funded rural broadband deployment ahead of time. Charter made broadband available to 200,000 new rural locations in 2022, according to Winfrey. The Charter rural take rate for “passings open at least six months” is “ahead of expectations at about 40%,” he said. Charter was one of the largest winners in the RDOF rural broadband program.
The Federal Communications Commission approved a number of proposals for the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program to make it easier for healthcare providers to receive support, reduce delays in funding commitments, and improve the overall efficiency of the program. Reliable high-speed connectivity is critical for rural healthcare providers to serve patients in rural areas that often have limited resources, fewer doctors, and higher rates for broadband and telecommunications services than urban areas.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a major hand in broadband matters. The agency's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) is responsible for overseeing a number of rural broadband funding programs, including the well-known multi-billion-dollar ReConnect loan and grant initiative. Andrew Berke has only recently taken the reigns as RUS Administrator, having been appointed by President Biden in October 2022.
The Federal Communications Commission approved several proposals for the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program to make it easier for healthcare providers to receive support, reduce delays in funding commitments, and improve the program's overall efficiency. Reliable high-speed connectivity is critical for rural healthcare providers to serve patients in rural areas that often have limited resources, fewer doctors, and higher rates for broadband and telecommunications services than urban areas.
In the summer of 2023, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will begin distributing hundreds of millions, and in some cases billions, of funding to states as part of the $42 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program. Expectedly, states are busy creating and staffing broadband offices in anticipation of the BEAD and digital equity monies. Blinded by a nationwide broadband fever, however, some broadband leaders have proclaimed that states will entirely close, bridge, or eliminate the digital divide in the coming years.