Rural communities can realize high-speed access to the Internet through broadband network initiatives financed by national banks and savings associations, and providing such financing can help banks support their own obligations under anti-redlining laws, according to a report released Monday by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).
In its Community Development Investments newsletter, the regulator of national banks and thrifts explains that bank financing of rural broadband development initiatives in underserved and low- and moderate-income (LMI) areas deliver benefits to banks in three ways:
- Supporting banks’ CRA programs, noting that some banks have financed broadband network initiatives using their public welfare investment (PWI) authority to make investments that benefit LMI communities, including distressed, underserved, rural, or tribal areas.
- Helping banks’ own viability and bottom lines by ensuring that their rural customers can use the many Internet-based banking services, including online banking, loan applications, cash management, investing, and other financial management activities.
- Delivering educational and economic empowerment to communities.
“Banks financing broadband initiatives can help reduce the digital divide and improve job, educational, and other opportunities in rural communities that are struggling economically with unreliable internet access,” states the report, titled “Expanding Internet Access: Bank Financing for Rural Broadband Initiatives.”