Rallying around a plan to eliminate the digital divide by 2022, a diverse group of community leaders, rural advocates and top innovators today announced the national launch of Connect Americans Now and the formation of local partnerships in Mississippi. The new alliance will work with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other policymakers to ensure that there is sufficient unlicensed low band spectrum in every market in the country to enable broadband connectivity.
“All Americans — regardless of where they live — deserve access to high-speed internet,” Richard T. Cullen, executive director of Connect Americans Now, said in a news release. “Without a broadband connection, millions of students struggle to keep up with their assignments, Americans in rural areas are unable to fully utilize telemedicine, farmers are denied the promise of precision agriculture and businesses are unable to tap into the world of online commerce. Congress and the FCC must stand with rural America by allowing internet service providers to deliver broadband via white spaces spectrum.”
“It’s critical to expand broadband access, especially for the millions of rural Americans who are on the wrong side of the digital divide,” Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said in the release. “I applaud Connect Americans Now’s efforts to extend high-speed access to the internet in rural America and urge the FCC to reserve white space channels in the U.S. market to better enable access to broadband internet.”
CAN’s founding partners include Microsoft, ACT: The App Association, the National Rural Education Association, the Schools, Health and Library Broadband Coalition, the Wisconsin Economic Development Association, Alaska Communications, Axiom, the Mid-Atlantic Broadcasting Communities Corporation, the American Pain Relief Institute, HTS Ag, and others. As a part of the initial launch, CAN is forming partnerships across rural America to educate stakeholders about the opportunities available via long-range, wireless broadband over TV white spaces. They also are spearheading an advocacy campaign in Washington, D.C., where FCC regulators have the authority to make sufficient unlicensed spectrum available in each market for high-speed internet.
“A reliable and cost-effective broadband connection will change the lives of millions of Americans who live each day without this basic necessity,” Tad Deriso, president & CEO of Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp. said in the release. “Through our pilot project with Microsoft, we have witnessed the transformative effect that providing broadband via TV white spaces brings to rural families who otherwise could not obtain internet service, and hope that the FCC will embrace the potential of Connect Americans Now’s plan to close the digital divide.”