Urging Leaders To #RebuildRural

Posted: October 9, 2017

Anyone familiar with TTA knows nothing is closer to the heart of our organization than the notion of bringing broadband to rural Tennesseans. TTA members invest millions of dollars annually to bring vital communications infrastructure to the most remote and sparsely populated areas of our great state.

That’s why, when I run across a campaign like #RebuildRural that hits so close to our mission, I like to share it. #RebuildRural is an awareness campaign on social media among the more than 200 organizations that make up the Rebuild Rural Coalition.
The coalition — which includes NTCA, the National Rural Water Association, the Council for Affordable and Rural Housing and the Farm Credit Council — aims to inform Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and his Chair of the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity about rural infrastructure needs.

The Coalition has eight major areas of focus: transportation, water, energy, financing, health care, ag research, housing and, of course, broadband. Most recently, they’ve drafted a letter to Perdue, outlining their stance.

I think most TTA members would agree with the Coalition’s talking points on broadband:

  • Broadband is vital to economic development, education, agriculture health care and public safety activities.
  • The High-Cost Universal Service Fund lacks sufficient resources to reach rate/service parity for rural and urban areas.
  • Less federal regulatory burden for permits and access to government lands would boost investment in rural broadband.
  • As we published in previous newsletters, the Trump administration has indicated that any forthcoming infrastructure bill would likely contain funding for broadband deployment.

I’m hopeful that through the work of TTA, our partners at KTA and NTCA, and groups like the Rebuild Rural Coalition, we can make clear to policymakers the unique needs of all rural Americans — especially those at home here in Tennessee.