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Rural Services at Risk

Today, robust, reliable broadband service is an essential component of key services such as health care delivery, education, and emergency response. Unfortunately, too many of our rural communities are not adequately served by the kind of fully-realized broadband infrastructure that suburban and urban communities have come to take for granted.

In order to make sure that rural Americans are afforded the same essential services as their fellow citizens in more-densely populated areas, we must ensure that federal regulators—via the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Connecting America Fund (CAF) Phase II allocations—are guided by the right policy approaches, and that the necessary broadband infrastructure improvements are adequately funded.

However, because of current regulations, claims by cable operators that they provide service at the agency’s speed requirement (10 Mbps) to a fraction of a Census block means that CAF funds cannot be used to deploy broadband to those remaining. Because cable providers are not required to serve these remaining residents—including key service providers—they often remain unable to access broadband, and are likely to stay un-served without federal support.

In order for essential services to be guaranteed for all citizens, the FCC should recognize that it is not currently feasible for cable providers to deploy broadband to remaining un-served areas, households, and institutions, and permit CAF II support to be used to reach them.