Access to affordable broadband Internet affects all aspects of rural life, and regulators should act quickly to put a plan in place that will support the availability of affordable broadband service in rural America.
That was the message a group of 35 national organizations sent to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in March. NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association signed the letter, along with groups representing consumer, community and business interests. NTCA is the national voice of telecommunications companies such as ours.
Because of the way Universal Service Fund (USF) support is currently set up, “consumers in rural America are being forced to select services they may not want, such as traditional landline telephone service, in order to gain access to broadband services at an affordable rate,” says Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of NTCA.
The letter specifically urged the FCC to move forward as quickly as possible to implement a Connect America Fund (CAF) mechanism for rural telecommunications companies like ours — a mechanism that will “provide sufficient and predictable support for broadband-capable networks across all of rural America,” Bloomfield adds.
The letter stated that “our groups include representatives of agribusiness, farmers and ranchers, rural health care providers, rural educational initiatives, economic development agencies, utilities, lenders and other sectors that are indispensable to our rural and national economies.”
—From NTCA Reports
In addition to NTCA, other organizations signing the letter include:
- Agricultural Retailers Association
- American Association of Community Colleges
- American Farm Bureau Federation
- American Library Association
- American Telemedicine Association
- Independent Community Bankers of America
- National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education
- National Rural Economic Developers Association
- National Rural Education Association
- National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
- National Rural Health Association
- National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative
- Rural School and Community Trust
- State Agriculture and Rural Leaders