The internet is an essential component of the modern world. Economic, political, educational, health, and public safety sectors all rely on connectivity. However, affordable high-speed internet is far from universally available. Rural areas often have the least access; low population density, lack of infrastructure, and high rates of poverty often make rural areas unattractive prospects for broadband providers. Federal, State, and local governments recognize the importance of broadband access and have instituted many programs to provide affordable high-speed internet to underserved communities. Regional governments play an important role in developing and administering these programs. They quantify and aggregate regional demand for broadband, facilitate partnerships, and help plan and execute broadband programs. Furthermore, they help secure State and federal funding for broadband projects. Regional councils across the United States have used these tools to support successful broadband programs that advance economic and community development.

Broadband Issue Brief

Regional councils play an important role in providing their residents and local businesses with high-speed, affordable internet.  Regional councils survey broadband use and aggregate demand, facilitate project partnerships, plan and execute broadband projects, and secure the necessary funding. An important piece of legislation regarding broadband access came out of the 2008 U.S. Farm Bill. The USDA implemented the broadband loan program to provide loans and loan guarantees to support construction, improvement, and acquisition of facilities and equipment for broadband service in rural areas. In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided almost $7 billion for broadband grant and loan programs through the the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the Department of Commerce (DOC) and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which provided an unprecedented opportunity for communities to establish broadband infrastructure in previously under-served areas.

NARC Member Case Studies

Broadband Resources

NARC Resources

Digital Access Driving Economic Opportunity, 2013 NARC Annual Conference Workshop

Federal Resources

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC)

U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service (RUS)

U.S. Department of Treasury

Non-Profit Resources

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