USDA's Rural Utilities Service and Rural Broadband: A Multistakeholder Approach to American Broadband Policy

43 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2018

See all articles by Christopher Ali

Christopher Ali

University of Virginia, Department of Media Studies

Date Written: March 2, 2018

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Ali, Christopher, USDA's Rural Utilities Service and Rural Broadband: A Multistakeholder Approach to American Broadband Policy (March 2, 2018). TPRC 46: The 46th Research Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3132904

Christopher Ali (Contact Author)

University of Virginia, Department of Media Studies ( email )

1400 University Ave
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

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