Senators ask new FCC Chair to make rural broadband a priority

According to a press release from Senator Roger Wicker

U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., today sent a letter to the new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai asking him to prioritize mobile broadband deployment in rural and underserved areas. Specifically, the Senators are calling on the agency to move forward with Phase II of the Universal Service Fund’s (USF) Mobility Fund, which is aimed at providing broadband service to these areas.

Both Senator Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar have signed the letter, which says…

February 2, 2017

The Honorable Ajit Pai, Chairman
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20554

As you begin your tenure as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), we urge your continued focus on ensuring access to mobile broadband services in rural America and closing the digital divide as a top priority for the Commission.

We appreciate your keen understanding of the benefits that mobile broadband brings to rural America, allowing “anyone, anywhere [to] innovate and succeed.” Reliable high-speed mobile broadband is critical to advancing telehealth services, precision agriculture, economic opportunities, education, public safety, and an ever growing list of new innovations and applications. It is necessary for our constituents, living in some of the most remote and rural areas, to participate in today’s digital economy.

We support your efforts to close the digital divide for low-income and rural Americans. Going forward, these efforts must include removing barriers to broadband deployment and promoting innovation, as well as adopting a Universal Service Fund (USF) Mobility Fund Phase II (MFII).

As you move forward with MFII, we ask that your efforts help to incent wireless carriers to preserve, upgrade, and expand mobile broadband in rural America, rather than degrade and reduce competition in areas that need it most. Competing in a capital-intensive environment, wireless carriers need long-term certainty of ongoing support to invest, deploy, maintain, and update their networks that provide vital mobile broadband services in rural areas. As the best example, certainty should come in the form of sufficient and predictable USF support in both the implementation of MFII and the transition away from legacy support mechanisms over the next several years.

Under your leadership, we urge the Commission to meet its statutory directive and ensure that the latest mobile broadband services are available across the nation, especially in rural America, and we thank you for your attention to this critically important issue.

This entry was posted in Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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