NTCA Statement on FCC Steps on Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, Broadband Mapping

For Immediate Release
Contact: Carolyn Just, 703-351-2015, cjust@ntca.org

Arlington, Va., (August 1, 2019)—NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association today thanked the FCC for its efforts to improve the agency’s broadband mapping and advance the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), which will provide $20.4B over the course of 10 years to support broadband efforts across rural America.

NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield has called the fund “a potentially significant leap forward in our nation’s efforts to overcome the digital divide,” and today affirmed the association’s support for the significant investment in rural communities. Regarding mapping, Bloomfield thanked the commissioners for their efforts to collect more granular data to improve broadband availability maps.

“The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund represents a potentially significant step to bridging the digital divide in our country by, among other things, creating opportunities for the nearly 850 independent, community-based broadband providers in NTCA’s membership to deploy and sustain service in more rural locations,” Bloomfield said.

“That said, NTCA urges the FCC to carefully consider the technical vetting of possible RDOF participants, as buildout in high-cost, rural areas requires significant long-term commitment and technology suitable to the vast array of challenges encountered in serving the most remote parts of our country. We also appreciate that the FCC seeks to raise the minimum speed threshold from 10/1Mbps to 25/3Mbps but caution that the standard might need to be adjusted for higher speeds as technologies advance.

“Regarding mapping, we are grateful that the FCC recognizes the need to fill the gaps that exist in current coverage maps. Incorrect mapping can lead to potentially harmful pitfalls with maps that show services as available where consumers cannot get them at all, and in other places they show speeds available at levels that cannot consistently be delivered.

“NTCA members have been building a better future for their rural communities for decades, and as hometown providers, their commitment to connecting rural America is second to none. As this program moves forward, our members look forward to furthering their critical role in delivering on the promise of sustainable and affordable broadband for rural America.”