Rural Broadband Policies in a Cross-National Comparison

Posted: 30 Mar 2016

See all articles by Sora Park

Sora Park

University of Canberra

Catherine A. Middleton

Ryerson University - Ted Rogers School of Management

Anne-Marie Oostveen

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Bianca Reisdorf

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Charlotte - College of Arts & Sciences; Michigan State University - Quello Center

Date Written: March 29, 2016

Abstract

Across a number of highly technologized countries, such as the US, the UK, Canada and Australia, we witness ongoing, if not increasing, digital divides between citizens who live in urban areas and those who live in rural and remote areas. This is not only true for the general availability of Internet access, but also and especially so for high-speed Internet access via broadband connections. Despite different historical developments across these countries and a number of different policies that were specifically designed to reduce these divides, persistent urban-rural broadband divides appear to be a universal phenomenon that has so far not been addressed successfully by any of the here examined countries.

Comparing and contrasting the history and the current state of urban-rural digital broadband divides as well as the according policies and the issues with these policies across a number of countries, this panel seeks to enable an informative discussion that provides a way forward and formulates policy recommendations that can help address urban-rural divides. Topics that will be covered include, but are not limited to, the developments observed in each respective country:

• The history of broadband adoption in urban and rural areas as well as the current state of urban-rural digital divides with a specific focus on broadband access

• The history of policies and programs specifically aimed at reducing urban-rural digital divides and broadband divides

• Issues in the implementation of policies and programs aimed at reducing urban-rural digital divides

• “Best practice” examples of policies, programs, and initiatives that made a positive impact in reducing urban-rural digital divides

• Recommendations for future policies, programs, and initiatives

In light of the very recent developments and announcements regarding the rollout of broadband in rural and underserved areas in the US (e.g. the current revision of the Lifeline program to include broadband and the recent Whitehouse announcement of the ConnectALL initiative), discussing what has worked and what has not worked across different countries and regions is highly relevant to the TPRC community. A critical comparison of initiatives across four highly connected countries can shed new light on an issue that has been debated for a number of years, but that has not been addressed successfully so far. Including “best practice” examples from all four countries will enable new and innovative perspectives and ideas.

The panel will be comprised of four experts who have conducted extensive research into rural digital divides and rural broadband policies in the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia. These experts span a range of disciplines, including communication, management, social informatics, and sociology. During the first 30-40 minutes of this 90-minute panel, each of the four experts will briefly present data on their respective country (see topics above). The second 20-30 minutes of the panel discussion will focus on a critical comparison of implementation issues as well as “best practice” examples, before opening up the discussion to the audience for the remaining 30 minutes.

Keywords: rural, digital divide, broadband, policy

Suggested Citation

Park, Sora and Middleton, Catherine A. and Oostveen, Anne-Marie and Reisdorf, Bianca, Rural Broadband Policies in a Cross-National Comparison (March 29, 2016). TPRC 44: The 44th Research Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy 2016, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2756067

Sora Park

University of Canberra ( email )

Faculty of Arts and Design
Bruce, Australian Capital Territory 2601
Australia
0262015423 (Phone)

Catherine A. Middleton

Ryerson University - Ted Rogers School of Management ( email )

350 Victoria Street
Toronto, Ontario M5B 2K3
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://www.broadbandresearch.ca

Anne-Marie Oostveen

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford OX1 3PG Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.social-informatics.net

Bianca Reisdorf (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Charlotte - College of Arts & Sciences ( email )

Charlotte, NC
United States

Michigan State University - Quello Center ( email )

406 Communication Arts Building
404 Wilson Road
East Lansing, MI 48824-1212
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
161
PlumX Metrics