Proposal could help narrow broadband gap

U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) are praising a new proposal from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to update the Universal Service Fund’s (USF) Mobility Fund. This program is specifically aimed at providing broadband service to rural and underserved areas.
The FCC’s outline includes bipartisan priorities recommended to the agency by Manchin and Wicker in a July 2016 letter sent to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. The letter specifically called for the agency to prioritize new mobile broadband deployment in rural and underserved areas, as well as preserve and upgrade mobile broadband where it is currently available.
“A fundamental principle of universal service is the idea that Americans in every region of the nation should have access to comparable services,” Manchin said. “Today, that includes access to reliable, high-speed advanced mobile broadband. This is an important step towards delivering that access to some of the hardest areas in rural communities to serve.”
“This is the right move for Americans living in rural areas,” Wicker said. “People should have access to high-speed mobile wireless service no matter where they live. Narrowing that broadband gap is not only the law, it is critical to growing the economy, creating jobs, delivering quality health care, and helping farmers deploy precision agriculture technology in the field. I look forward to learning more about the FCC’s plan to improve the accuracy of wireless data coverage.”
The Commission’s proposal includes funding for maintaining and advancing mobile broadband networks, establishing a reasonable transition period for wireless carriers already providing service in economically challenging areas.