Better Broadband Better Lives

Rural Mobile Group Pushes 'Bill of Rights' for Broadband Users

in Universal Service by

WASHINGTON, March 25, 2009 - A consortium of broadband interest groups calling itself the Rural Mobile Broadband Alliance (RuMBA) USA, on Wednesday announced its “Broadband Bill of Rights.”

RuMBA's platform contains five principles in the debate over broadband connectivity in rural and underserved areas. Debate over the topic has accelerated since the passage of the fiscal stimulus bill, officially titled the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

According to RuMBA Managing Director Luisa Handem, all Americans deserve “access to a network that is:”

“ (1) Ubiquitous – Services and devices should work seamlessly everywhere: in rural, suburban and urban areas. America needs an additional two million square miles of coverage.

“(2) Safe - Americans need E911 with location service and an emergency Cell Broadcast System with weather and disaster alerting. Katrina-like outages are unacceptable.

“ (3) Mobile - Whether in the car, on the tractor, at home, in school, at work and all areas in between, America relies on mobility; its networks must reflect American lifestyle needs.

“ (4) Affordable - Rural Americans demand competitive pricing for services and devices. Americans need the same or better services and devices as the rest of the country, at a fair price, and

“ (5) Sustainable - America must invest in next generation systems that can be operated at a profit and maintained by local small town carriers. Americans must leap ahead, buy tomorrow’s technologies, not yesterday’s.”

The group also “seeks to ensure that rural communities are offered the same affordable mobile broadband services available to urban and suburban areas, and equal access to” [enhanced emergency 911 location-based coverage,” RuMBA said in the announcement.

1 Comment

  1. The authors of this document clearly have their hearts in the right place, but should more accurately have named it a “Mobile Broadband Bill of Rights,” because many of its provisions are only appropriate for mobile wireless broadband. (In fact, some — such as the bit about E911 — are really only appropriate for cell phones.)

    Fixed wireless broadband is also very important in rural areas, because it provides speeds, capacities, and levels of service quality that mobile broadband cannot match. Mobile devices are essential, but since they must incorporate tradeoffs to make them portable they are not a total solution. Fixed wireless broadband can fill these gaps.

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