Disconnected: Rural Broadband and the Business Case for Small Carriers

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[Press release] Members of the House Subcommittees on a) Health and Technology and b) Agriculture, Energy, and Trade held a joint hearing on the challenges in the current regulatory and operational environment that limit the ability of small carriers to bridge the rural digital divide. The hearing examined the disparities between large, nationwide carriers and small, rural carriers that contribute to the urban/rural digital divide and the challenges inherent in the current regulatory and operational schemes that limit the ability of small carriers to deploy broadband in rural America. Derrick B. Owens of WTA (formerly the Western Telecommunications Alliance) was one of the witnesses at the hearing, discussing the Universal Service Fund, rural broadband infrastructure, and regulatory and reporting requirements. He said the USF High Cost program supports rural broadband networks and needs to be sufficiently funded, suggesting at the very least, an inflationary adjustment to the High Cost program is warranted so that current problems regarding the sufficiency and predictability of support are not exacerbated. He also suggested Congress directly allocate a portion of President Trump’s $50 billion infrastructure plan specifically for rural broadband infrastructure purposes.

Other witnesses were: Erin Fitizgerald of the Rural Wireless Association; Tim Donovan of the Competitive Carriers Association; and Paul Carliner of Bloosurf.


Disconnected: Rural Broadband and the Business Case for Small Carriers