GOP senators press FCC on rural broadband

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A pair of Senate Republicans is urging the head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to press ahead with plans to bring broadband Internet to remote parts of the country.

Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) and Roy Blunt (Mo.) told FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to “move forward promptly” with the fund in a letter on Tuesday.  

“The most rural and mountainous areas of New Hampshire and Missouri are in great need of broadband communications,” the two wrote.

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The FCC’s effort, they added, “could help ensure that American consumers who live and work in sparsely populated, unserved areas have access to affordable broadband services.”

Under the umbrella of FCC’s Universal Service Fund, which attempts to bring broadband to all corners of the country, $100 million has been set aside for the Remote Areas Fund (RAF), which specifically targets rural residents. The program is funded by fees on people’s phone bills.

The full program was originally scheduled to be implemented by the end of 2012, but the money has not yet been fully allocated.

The delay, the lawmakers wrote, could is making it harder for people to get access to highest-speed connectivity.

“Continued delay in RAF funding roll-out could mean that important broadband services are being denied to the unserved Americans who need these services most.”