Today was a landmark day up on Capitol Hill with the rollout of the new congressional Rural Broadband Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives. Rep. Mark Pocan from Wisconsin was joined by Reps. Cramer from North Dakota, Welch from Vermont and Latta from Ohio in the formation of this new caucus to really explore the challenges and opportunities for broadband deployment and adoption for rural America and the impact broadband has on the lives of those Americans.
NTCA was honored to be a part of the kickoff, and I was able to moderate the discussion between these key committee leaders. Mike Romano, NTCA’s senior vice president of policy, provided substantive discussion on the current status of rural broadband and what effective policies could be put in place to further overcome deployment, affordability and comparability issues. Mike was joined on the panel by Sarah Tyree, vice president for CoBank and advocate for rural financing, and by representatives from USTA and CCA.
Not only was it a great opportunity to share with the standing-room-only crowd a bit more about NTCA’s membership and how our 900 independent, community-based telecommunications companies are leading innovation in rural and small town America, but also that while nearly all consumer advocates, broadband providers and policymakers agree that broadband is an essential service, there still remain many challenges and opportunities that Congress and the FCC must continue to evaluate in order for our country to reach our common connectivity goals. That is why I am so excited that the Rural Broadband Caucus has been created to provide a forum for discussion and learning about these important issues.
I was particularly struck by the timing of the caucus event and the huge congressional interest as I made my way back to the FCC later this afternoon.