SBC Examines How to Bring Broadband to Rural America
WASHINGTON – Today, Members of the House Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade heard from a group of experts in the first of a series of hearings addressing the rural broadband deployment efforts small telecommunications companies are undergoing in rural America. Witnesses also discussed the potential for policy changes at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and what the FCC has done to help or hinder broadband deployment.
“Our small businesses, particularly ones in rural areas, depend on new telecommunications technologies to compete across town and across the world,” said Subcommittee Chairman Rod Blum (R-IA).
“The nation’s small telecommunications providers are the ones that traditionally supply the bulk of broadband services to the most rural parts of America, and it is no easy task. We’ve been making progress over the past few years, but more needs to be done to put rural America on par with urban America. These small businesses are ready, willing, able, and frankly itching to get out there and build these networks, if only Washington would get out of their way,” Blum continued.
Improving Broadband Deployment: Solutions for Rural America
“Fixed and mobile broadband, video, and voice are among the services that many rural Americans can access thanks to our industry’s networks and commitment to serving sparsely populated areas. These technologies serve as a small business incubator in rural areas that would otherwise see entrepreneurial activity gravitate toward the urban areas with greater resources,” said Mike Romano, Senior Vice President for Industry Affairs and Business Development at NTCA - the Rural Broadband Association.
“Small companies like mine wait years and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars per project on environmental, archaeological, and historical preservation reviews. It is not uncommon for small companies like mine to experience delays of up to 18 to 24 months in getting broadband projects going because of these types of reviews. This is particularly problematic in parts of the country that have shorter construction seasons than Texas,” said Dave Osborn, Chief Executive Officer at VTX1 Companies.
“Policymakers must be mindful that small rural and regional providers have limited resources, and continue to face challenges securing adequate capital for wireless siting projects, an issue where this Committee plays a critical leadership role,” said Tim Donovan, the Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs at the Competitive Carriers Association.
“We applaud Chairman Pai and the Federal Communications Commission for creating the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) to take look at the barriers to providing broadband access to rural areas of our country. We were especially pleased that Jim Matheson, CEO of our national trade association, NRECA, was appointed to serve on the committee and bring the voice of non-traditional providers, like electric cooperatives to the table for these important discussions,” said Chris Allendorf, Vice President of External Relations and General Counsel at Jo-Carroll Energy, Inc. (NFP).