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New rural broadband coalition forms

A new coalition comes together to advocate for the elimination of the digital divide in rural America. The new group is called Connect Americans Now. Spokesman Zachary Cikanek talks about the make up the new coalition.

“It is a group of rural advocates, rural educators, tele-health providers, and precision agriculture advocates who are coming together to raise the priority level of rural broadband connectivity in Washington and throughout the heartland of the United States,” Cikanek says.

He says they are rallying behind a new technology to help close the digital divide in the next five years. Americans who don’t live in rural areas might be surprised at how many people across the country don’t have access to broadband services. There are 23.4 million rural Americans who do not have access to broadband services.

“That means students can’t turn in homework, it freezes opportunities for small businesses, it eliminates the potential for farmers to take advantage of precision agriculture. All of these can be overcome if we have the regulatory certainty we need to take advantage of the public airwaves,” Cikanek says.

Cikanek says TV whitespace is an area of spectrum where most folks used to get their over-the-air television signals from. The move to digital has opened up a lot of that spectrum, which Connect Americans Now says is the perfect way to improve connectivity in rural America. There are a number of pilot programs that use that kind of technology to improve broadband access in the U.S. and around the world.

*Michael Clements contributed to this report.