Sen. Fischer, FCC Commissioner push for expanded rural broadband access

Jun 29, 2015

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer and a FCC Commissioner want changes to subsidies given to telephone and internet providers.

Senator Fischer and Commissioner Ajit Pai are supporting a plan that would allow government subsidies to go to carriers who want to provide stand-alone broadband service. Right now, subsidies from Universal Service Fund revenue are given to carriers who offer both telephone and broadband service. If a provider wants to have just broadband available, they can’t get the federal support.

Pai says available rural broadband service is important to business and quality of life.

"You see it also in areas such as health, where people who live in rural areas who lack the ability to see a specialist can do so only thanks to a broadband connection. You see it in terms of education, where people in rural schools won’t have the same access to information if they don’t have a broadband connection in their local school and library."

Nebraska Broadband, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln initiative, says 73.6 percent of rural households in the state have broadband. That compares to 86 percent of urban households. And 60 percent of Nebraska businesses sell their goods online.

Pai says broadband providers also need certainty that funding is available for the long-term investment they’re making.