WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus, joined dozens of his Senate colleagues in urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to prioritize sustainable rural broadband networks as the FCC considers new rules to govern the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) program. In the bipartisan letter, the senators pushed the FCC to exercise proper oversight over RDOF funding, and ensure that projects are maximizing the long-term impact of their efforts to improve broadband access throughout rural America.
“If our rural communities are to survive and flourish, our rural constituents need access to services that are on par with those in urban areas,” the senators wrote. “By contrast, it would be an inefficient use of resources to promote services that cannot keep pace with consumer demand and the evolution of broadband in urban areas. As the FCC moves forward to adopt new rules in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund proceeding, we urge you to promote the deployment of networks that will be sustainable even as new advancements are made and are capable of delivering the best level of broadband access for the available USF budget for many years to come.”
Digital connectivity in rural regions is a key priority of Senator King’s economic agenda and rural broadband roadmap, to help modernize and grow Maine’s rural economy, support innovation, and create jobs. In July, he cosponsored the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act, which will increase the accuracy of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) broadband availability maps by improving the process by which broadband data is collected. In May, Senators King and Capito re-introduced legislation to measure the economic impact of broadband so state and federal policymakers can understand the return they will receive on any investments in digital infrastructure. The legislation had previously passed the Senate in December, but was not taken up by the House. In April, Senator King joined his colleagues to introduce legislation to promote “digital equity” so Americans of all background can have equal access to the opportunities created by the internet.