WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), members of the Senate Commerce Committee, today led a bipartisan group of 56 senators in writing a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about rural broadband.
In the letter, addressed to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, and FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, the senators urged the agency to take additional steps to continue advancing broadband deployment in our nation’s rural areas. They also expressed concerns about the high cost of these critical services in many rural communities and stressed that more Americans should have the opportunity to purchase affordable broadband to keep them connected.
“We appreciate the steps taken by the FCC last year to address this concern. However, we are still hearing frustration about the prices for and the availability of standalone broadband. Many operators remain unable or unwilling to offer such broadband because their prices would still be unreasonably high even after the reforms. Other operators may offer standalone broadband, but the costs they are forced to recover from rural consumers far exceed what urban consumers would pay for the same service,” the senators wrote.
In addition to Fischer and Klobuchar, other senators who signed the letter include: Thune (R-SD); Blunt (R-MO); Tillis (R-NC); Moran (R-KS); Hatch (R-UT); Cantwell (D-WA); Wicker (R-MS); Manchin (D-WV); Burr (R-NC); Gillibrand (D-NY); McCaskill (D-MO); Cornyn (R-TX); Baldwin (D-WI); Lankford (R-OK); Capito (R-WV); Franken (D-MN); Heitkamp (D-ND); Donnelly (D-IN); Bennet (D-CO); Graham (R-SC); Wyden (D-OR); Isakson (R-GA); Roberts (R-PA); Shaheen (D-NH); Barrasso (R-WY); Young (R-IN); Kaine (D-VA); Durbin (D-IL); Cotton (R-AR); Merkley (D-OR); Feinstein (D-CA); Daines (R-MT); Gardner (R-CO); Rounds (R-SD); King (I-ME); Hassan (D-NH); Portman (R-OH); Leahy (D-VT); Tester (D-MT); Boozman (R-AR); Grassley (R-IA); Casey (D-PA); Cassidy (R-LA); Hoeven (R-ND); Peters (D-MI); Inhofe (R-OK); Duckworth (D-IL); Cortez Masto (D-NV); Crapo (R-ID); McCain (R-AZ); Stabenow (D-MI); Scott (R-SC); Sasse (R-NE); Enzi (R-WY).
Senators Fischer and Klobuchar have worked together on rural broadband issues in the past. For example, in 2015 they introduced the Rural Spectrum Accessibility Act. The bill would provide incentives for wireless carriers to lease unused spectrum to rural or smaller carriers to expand wireless coverage to more rural communities.
A signed copy of the senators’ letter to the FCC is available online HERE.