Today was a big day for those advocating for continued broadband deployment across rural America as 193 members of Congress (194 if you include Sen. Joni Ernst’s letter) reached out to the FCC to address the long-term budget sufficiency of the Universal Service Fund (USF) High-Cost program. This is a critical and necessary step in continuing to close the digital divide (and the urban-rural divide) that is often cited by Chairman Pai as one of his top priorities.
The USF High-Cost program plays an essential role in helping rural areas experience the benefits of robust broadband by supporting and sustaining networks in areas that are sparsely populated and costly to serve. The letters signed by 130 members of the House and 63 members of the Senate encourage the FCC to adopt longer-term USF budget solutions that will provide rural Americans a meaningful opportunity to obtain voice and broadband services on a basis that is reasonably comparable to what other Americans enjoy.
Providing all Americans with broadband requires construction and the ongoing operation of cutting-edge communications networks in the hardest-to-serve areas of our country. Sufficient and predictable USF support is essential to provide the business case for private sector investment and to sustain these networks once they’re built. That is why I couldn’t be more thankful for the support of 130 House members and 63 Senators who sent letters to the FCC today asking for a long-term solution to the budget insufficiencies in the Universal Service High-Cost Program.
We are particularly grateful to rural broadband champions, Reps. Kevin Cramer and Collin Peterson and Sens. Deb Fischer and Amy Klobuchar for their never-ending leadership on these letters and for garnering the support of their colleagues to build a brighter, better-connected future for rural America.