Washington, DC (NAPSI) - A new ruling by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may keep rural communities on the slow side of the digital divide.

The Universal Service Fund a program overseen by the FCC and funded through contributions paid by telecom providers makes sure rural consumers have access to high-quality networks and affordable telecom services. But recent rule changes may put that at risk.

Reliable, high-speed broadband can improve the lives of all consumers, but access is especially important to ruralAmerica. It enables small businesses to reach customers nationwide, offers local students the chance to take classes online, and allows doctors to remotely diagnose patients and offer emergency care.

But the new rules cut support revenues for many smaller, community-based telecom providers. If you are concerned that the new policies will require rural consumers to pay higher rates for telephone service and slower broadband, contact your congressional representatives. Urge them to support regulatory action that ensures equal and affordable access for all Americans. Join the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association in advocating for rural communities at www.saveruralbroadband.org.