Congressional group pushes rural telecom goals
The Congressional Rural Caucus this week launched a preemptive strike for telcos serving small markets, saying that as Congress discusses a rewrite of the Telecom Act, the Universal Service Fund must continue as an industry-funded mechanism. Additionally, the group, which consists representatives from across the political spectrum, said rural carriers need to be compensated for all traffic on their networks, a direct shot at voice-over-IP providers.
In a letter to Chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Ranking Member John Dingell (D-Mich.) of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, the CRC urged the committee to take the special needs of rural telcos into consideration.
“As the United States moves into the broadband age, it is imperative that we not forget the principles that have served us so well,” the letter read. “Let’s make sure the commitment to universal access to communications services is protected during a rewrite so that all Americans can have access to advanced communications, such as DSL, cable, wireless and satellite.”
At a press conference, U.S. Representatives Gil Gutknecht (R-Minn.), John Peterson (R-Penn.), Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), Lincoln Davis (D-Tenn.) and Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas) noted that investing in rural networks is essential for America’s competitiveness.
"Broadband isn't simply a faster way of connecting to the Internet, it's an essential means through which rural America gains access to the outside world," said Peterson, who is also co-chairman of the CRC. "If our residents are to be competitive in today's fast-paced, technology-driven global marketplace, our communities will require affordable high-speed, high-capacity access to data and information over the Internet.”
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