Affordable and reliable broadband internet service is essential to our rural communities. We know that access to broadband service helps to create jobs and is a boost for economic development, education and business opportunities in our rural areas. However, access to this resource can be a challenge in many areas.
I have watched closely to make sure that the government programs dedicated to expanding broadband in rural areas are actually going to communities that are truly underserved.
My main concern is that a decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to transition money from the Universal Service Fund (USF) High-Cost Program to a new Connect America Fund is not helping to get broadband where it’s most needed. Because USF support is tied to voice service for rural providers, high-cost areas served by rural carriers tend to receive reduced support if consumers do not take voice service along with broadband. We need to make sure that the FCC looks at a provision that provides sufficient and predictable support for broadband-capable networks in areas served by rural carriers.