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By Shirley Bloomfield and Jonathan Spalter
Editor’s note: The following Op-Ed was published on February 27 in The Hill.

Decades ago, small hometown businesses in our country’s heartland formed to solve what was then a leading infrastructure challenge facing rural America: the inability to communicate in a reliable way with the wider world. Fueled by an entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to their communities, these pioneers brought the telephone to rural America. With this infrastructure came new opportunities for business development and economic prosperity—outcomes possible only because of the reliable, sustainable communications at their fingertips.

Today, rural America continues to be fertile ground for innovation, but broadband has replaced the telephone, and equaled roads and bridges and airports as the infrastructure opportunity of the 21st century. As the broadband era commenced, broadband providers have leapt to the call once again, leading the way in building advanced networks that support cutting-edge technologies and the internet’s fastest speeds across large portions of rural America.


February 27, 2017

The Honorable John Thune                                    The Honorable Bill Nelson
Chairman, Senate Committee on Commerce,             Ranking Member, Senate Committee on
Science, & Transportation                                        Commerce, Science, & Transportation
511 Dirksen Senate Office Building                           716 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510                                            Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Greg Walden                                 The Honorable Frank Pallone, Jr.
Chairman, House Committee on Energy and             Ranking Member, House Committee on
Commerce                                                             Energy and Commerce
2185 Rayburn House Office Building                        237 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515                                           Washington, DC 20515                                 


Dear Chairman Thune, Ranking Member Nelson, Chairman Walden, Ranking Member Pallone:

Our associations are composed of well over a thousand companies and cooperatives that today offer robust broadband over networks spanning thousands of miles and reaching millions of rural consumers and businesses.  Yet, extending these networks into parts of rural America still lacking access, delivering affordable services, and upgrading existing networks to allow rural consumers to benefit from the capabilities of broadband all remain formidable challenges.  Just over a year ago, the FCC found that over 39 percent of Americans living in rural areas still lack access to advanced telecommunications capability.  It was nearly seven years ago that the very first sentence of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan declared that “[b]roadband is the great infrastructure challenge of the early 21st century.”  Indeed, that remains the case. 


For Immediate Release
Contact:Laura Withers, (703) 351-2087,

Arlington, Va. (February 23 2017)— NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association today issued the following statements in response to actions by the FCC on two issues important to rural telecommunications.

On the adoption of the Mobility Fund Phase II order:

“NTCA’s most recent wireless survey indicated that dozens of our members have invested millions of dollars to deliver reliable mobile wireless services in rural America,” said NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield. “Universal service support helped enable and sustain many of the investments in such deeply rural markets, and it’s important that the FCC not ‘pull the rug out from under’ these small businesses and their customers.