A group of broadband solutions providers and industry stakeholders have formed the Rural Mobile Broadband Alliance, RuMBA. Aiming to ensure that a fair share of the $7.2 billion allocated for broadband network development as part of the broadband stimulus plan is devoted to rolling out wireless broadband access in rural and remote areas, RuMBA USA “will seek to ensure that rural communities are offered the same affordable wireless broadband services available to urban and suburban areas, and equal access to wireless E-911 Phase II (location-based) coverage,” according to a media release from the group.
At the group’s helm is Luisa Handem, an Austin Hill Country Texas resident, community activist, communications executive and founding PR director of the WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) Forum. “With the approval of $7.2 billion for broadband in the stimulus package, there is a great opportunity for all the players in the field to sit down and agree upon the adoption of the best and most affordable mobile broadband technology that will fully meet the needs of our under-served communities,” Handem stated. “There is a true sense of urgency in getting this process right. Collectively, we need to help set an aggressive agenda for establishing a universal broadband strategy in the spirit of the stimulus Act, without falling prey to the old ways of addressing the communications needs of our rural neighbors.”
The Dept. of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Infrastructure Administration (NTIA) and the Dept. of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) are responsible for allocating the $7.2 billion in federal grants and funds.
RuMBA’s now on a membership drive, looking to form a larger, broader-based coalition that will also lobby to influence allocation of funds from the NTIA administered ‘ Broadband Opportunities Program‘, which aims to spur development of a nationwide Next Generation Mobile Network grid.