November 17, 2016

Wyden Denounces Delaying Rural Broadband Funding

Urges FCC to Pass the Mobility Fund and Provide Broadband Infrastructure Support for the Highest-Need Rural Communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the announcement by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to remove agenda items from its November 17 Open Meeting, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today raised serious concerns about Republican efforts to delay critical programs that preserve and extend mobile broadband and voice services in rural America. Congressional Republicans recently wrote to the FCC, requesting the Commission halt activity on new rulemakings after November 8, 2016.

I regularly hear from Oregonians in rural counties that it is clear high costs are preventing private sector broadband investment in parts of rural Oregon. The FCC must fulfill its responsibility to provide a lifeline to rural communities and a connection to the global economy. Wireless cell service and broadband internet spur economic opportunity, improve public safety and increase educational outcomes for rural Americans. Any delay causes these rural communities to wait even longer for help,” said Wyden.

The Commission was set to vote today on a Report and Order adopting rules for the second phase of the Mobility Fund. The Mobility Fund provides ongoing universal service support dedicated to expanding the availability of mobile broadband networks.

The Mobility Fund Phase II aims to close coverage gaps, targets areas needing support and dedicates funds to support mobile broadband on tribal lands. If passed, the second phase of the Mobility Fund would provide $470 million in annual support over the span of five years.