Members of Congress Call for More Oversight of Broadband Policy

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Laura Withers, 703-351-2086, lwithers@ntca.org 
                Wendy Mann, 703-351-2087, wmann@ntca.org

 

Fischer, Begich introduce legislation seeking analysis of FCC reforms

WASHINGTON (April 23, 2013) – Federal policies guiding support for broadband deployment in rural areas need additional analysis and greater oversight, members of Congress said today during the second day of the 2013 Legislative & Policy Conference hosted by NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association.

Sen. Deb Fischer (R–Neb.) and Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R–Mo.) addressed more than 500 conference attendees, telling rural telecom leaders that Congress can do more to ensure that broadband support programs like the FCC’s Connect America Fund are operating effectively and providing independent telecommunications providers the certainty and predictability they need to continue serving rural communities.

“We all know that companies need to have a level of predictability,” Fischer said at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill. “If you’re going to plan for the future you at least need to know what the rules are.”

Fischer’s comments came hours after she and Sen. Mark Begich (D–Alaska) introduced bipartisan legislation seeking greater analysis of the commission’s 2011 Universal Service Fund (USF) reforms limiting support for some rural providers. The bill (S. 774) directs the U.S. Government Accountability Office to issue a report by year-end on the effectiveness of the USF reforms, including any effects the changes have had on broadband rates and speeds. NTCA members sought additional support for the bill during meetings with members of Congress today.

As vice chairman of the House Small Business Committee, Luetkemeyer has worked to bring business owners more certainty about regulations affecting their operations. He vowed today to continue working with rural telecom providers to provide oversight of federal agencies like the FCC and urged conference attendees to demonstrate to lawmakers how “the rural way of life works.”

“We want to know the unintended consequences and the benefits” of federal policies, Luetkemeyer said. “You can bring those stories.”

The 2013 NTCA Legislative & Policy conference concludes today.

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NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association is the premier association representing nearly 900 independent, community-based telecommunications companies that are leading innovation in rural and small-town America. NTCA advocates on behalf of its members in the legislative and regulatory arenas, and it provides training and development; publications and industry events; and an array of employee benefit programs. In an era of exploding technology, deregulation and marketplace competition, NTCA’s members are leading the IP evolution for rural consumers, delivering technologies that make rural communities vibrant places in which to live and do business. Because of their efforts, rural America is fertile ground for innovation in economic development and commerce, education, health care, government services, security and smart energy use. Visit us at www.ntca.org.