Washington, DC- U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), along with a large, bipartisan coalition, called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to do more to encourage rural telecommunications companies to upgrade phone and internet service in rural America.
With too many communities in rural America lacking up-to-date phone and internet service, the senators want the FCC to reform its Universal Service Fund (USF). The fund, previously reformed in 2011, supports new investments by telecom carriers in hard-to-reach areas. But the recent reforms left the amount of support that telecom companies receive too unpredictable, discouraging some carriers from making needed investments in rural parts of the country.
Casey – along with 25 other senators – want new FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to improve predictability of the USF so telecom carriers can more confidently invest in affordable broadband throughout rural America.
“We remain concerned the reform order is limiting the ability of small carriers to provide rural consumers with the broadband service they need to compete in today’s global economy,” the senators wrote. “We urge the Commission to take immediate steps to re-establish predictability, sufficiency and transparency in the USF program so that these small businesses can resume critical investments in rural broadband.”
The bipartisan letter was signed by Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Mark Udall (D-Colo.).