WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper joined Senators Amy Klobuchar, John Thune, and Jerry Moran to introduce a bill to expand internet access in rural communities.
The Reforming Broadband Connectivity Act would improve the funding structure for the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Universal Service Fund (USF), which promotes universal access to high-speed broadband and other telecommunications services. Currently, the USF is primarily funded through landline fees, which disproportionately burdens seniors, who are more likely to use landlines than other Americans.
“We’re connecting every house in America to affordable, high-speed internet, including all of our rural communities,” said Hickenlooper. “Strengthening the Universal Service Fund will help us expand reliable internet access to those rural communities faster.”
The Reforming Broadband Connectivity Act would direct the FCC to reform the contributions system, taking into account the fairness and the relative burden any changes in fees will have on consumers and businesses, as well as the impact the proposed changes to the contribution system will have on seniors specifically. Companion legislation was introduced by a bipartisan group in the House of Representatives led by Representative Joe Neguse.
The legislation is endorsed by the National Telephone Cooperative Association (NTCA)– The Rural Broadband Association, WTA – Advocates for Rural Broadband, USTelecom, and the Minnesota Telecom Alliance.