USDA's Rural Utilities Service and Rural Broadband: A Multistakeholder Approach to American Broadband Policy
43 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2018
Date Written: March 2, 2018
Drawing on the increasing body of literature on policy stakeholders and the ever-growing acknowledgement that communication policy is crafted by more than just parliamentarians and formal communication regulators this paper examines the role that another set of regulators plays in communication policy: agriculture regulators. Based on a study of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS), this paper explores alternative agents of communication policy. More specifically, through document analysis and in-depth elite interviews we examine the way in which RUS has shaped rural broadband policy over the last three decades. We label RUS a “reluctant regulator” when it comes to rural broadband to signal its perceived legitimacy in the space but lack of consistent initiative in setting policy. The implications for this research are broad as it brings another actor into the policy making process, provides a comprehensive description of rural broadband policy, and pushes communication policy scholars to consider the role that non-traditional communication regulators play in the communication policy making process.
Keywords: Rural Broadband, Broadband Policy, Internet Access, Digital Divide, USDA, RUS
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