Washington, DC (December 10, 2019) – A bipartisan group of 48 U.S. Senators sent a letter yesterday to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asking the agency to prioritize sustainable rural broadband (high-speed internet) networks.
The letter, addressed to Chairman Ajit Pai, addresses the FCC’s consideration of new rules in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) proceeding. RDOF is expected to replace the Connect America Fund auction program when it expires in 2021, per this article from USTelecom which explores how the new funding mechanism would work if current rules move forward.
In the letter, the senators emphasized that they believe the RDOF funds must be appropriated to groups that can provide high-speed internet access long-term.
“Given that the FCC plays a critical role in connecting rural communities to high-speed internet through the universal service fund (USF), we encourage the FCC to make the most efficient and effective use of those funds,” wrote the senators. “Any large-scale infrastructure project requires reasonable planning that takes account not only of current needs, but also of projected demands over the life of the asset being funded.”
According to a release from Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb), who also signed the letter, the FCC would commit more than $20 billion over the next 10 years to supporting high-speed broadband networks to at least four million homes and businesses in rural areas.
“If our rural communities are to survive and flourish, our rural constituents need access to services that are on par with those in urban areas. By contrast, it would be an inefficient use of resources to promote services that cannot keep pace with consumer demand and the evolution of broadband in urban areas,” the letter continues. “As the FCC moves forward to adopt new rules in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund proceeding, we urge you to promote the deployment of networks that will be sustainable even as new advancements are made.”
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