It’s past time to close the rural digital divide. While we have made progress in expanding quality broadband access for rural Americans, going virtual during much of the COVID-19 pandemic made the importance of digital equity clear. Rural America needs an advocate for their broadband access on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). 

  • “22.3 percent of Americans in rural areas and 27.7 percent of Americans in Tribal lands lack coverage from fixed terrestrial 25/3 Mbps broadband, as compared to only 1.5 percent of Americans in urban areas, according to a recent report by the Federal Communications Commission.” (USDA, 2020) 
  • “Rural residents are still less likely than those living in suburban areas to report having home broadband.” (Pew Research, 2021) 
  • “About 81 percent of rural households are plugged into broadband, compared with about 86 percent in urban areas.” (New York Times, Census Bureau Data, 2021) 
  • “More than 30 million Americans — many of whom live on Tribal lands or in other rural areas — do not have access to broadband infrastructure that delivers even minimally sufficient speeds.” (White House Fact Sheet) 

Gigi Sohn, the Biden Administration’s nominee for FCC Commissioner, has made numerous public statements that call into question whether she will work to bring broadband to all rural Americans expeditiously. 

  • In a testimony to the House Energy & Commerce Committee, Sohn said “policymakers have focused disproportionately on broadband deployment in rural areas of the United States.” 
  • Sohn also criticized the FCC broadband policies and claimed they “made it really easy” for rural broadband companies “to basically suck at the government teat to the tune of tens of billions of dollars.” 

Read more about the importance of closing the digital divide and steps the bipartisan infrastructure law has taken here