Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper joined colleagues to introduce the Reforming Broadband Connectivity Act, bipartisan legislation to expand access to broadband by strengthening the funding mechanisms for the Universal Service Fund (USF). The bill is cosponsored by Senators John Thune, Amy Klobuchar, and Jerry Moran.
The USF is a program managed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) supported by fees charged on landlines to fund the expansion of broadband access to low-income households and high-cost areas, such as rural communities. As landline use has declined, the USF’s shrinking funding base has placed an increased financial burden on a smaller pool of users and become unreliable. The Reforming Broadband Connectivity Act will modernize the funding mechanism to make sure USF can continue expanding broadband access.
“Rural Colorado needs reliable and fast internet to connect with the world,” said Hickenlooper. “As we expand broadband with our Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, we also need to make sure universal access is sustainable.”
“Affordable access to telecommunications and broadband services is an essential part of ensuring no one gets left behind. The Colorado Broadband Office fully supports strengthening the Universal Services Fund through the Accelerating Broadband Connectivity Act of 2021 to invest in projects that are critical for maintaining equal access for all,” said Anthony Neal-Graves, Chief Information Officer & Executive Director at the Colorado Governor’s Office of Information Technology.
As part of a bipartisan group of 22 senators, Hickenlooper helped write the broadband section of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. That bill includes $65 billion to expand broadband access, increasing high-speed broadband access and lowering costs for consumers.
- The USF — which includes programs to support broadband access in rural communities, facilitate rural health care, and expand access to affordable broadband service for low-income families, schools, and libraries — is largely funded by fees imposed on landlines.
- The Reforming Broadband Connectivity Act directs the FCC to complete a rulemaking to reform the contributions system in a way that promotes equity across all voice and data users who are assessed a fee. This reform will modernize the funding mechanism to allow USF to continue fulfilling its mission to expand broadband service to rural communities.