Miss. Senator Among 48 Senators Who Want FCC Rural Digital Opportunity Rule that Keeps Pace with Demand, Advances in Technology

U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) is among 48 Senators who are pressing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to prioritize sustainable rural broadband networks as the agency considers rules in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) proceeding.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, the Senators argue for investing RDOF resources in technologies that keep pace with growing consumer demand in rural communities and the evolution of broadband in urban areas.

“The FCC must carefully consider how it invests in rural areas.  The benefits of improving broadband access in rural Mississippi, for instance, will be short-lived if the networks can’t keep up with advances in technology,” said Hyde-Smith, who has used her committee assignments to support efforts to close the digital divide.

In August, the FCC launched a rulemaking process to establish the RDOF and direct up to $20.4 billion to target areas with rural homes and small businesses that lack modern broadband service.

Led by Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), the letter stated, “Given that the FCC plays a critical role in connecting rural communities to high-speed internet through the universal service fund (USF), we encourage the FCC to make the most efficient and effective use of those funds.”

“If our rural communities are to survive and flourish, our rural constituents need access to services that are on par with those in urban areas,” the Senators wrote.  “By contrast, it would be an inefficient use of resources to promote services that cannot keep pace with consumer demand and the evolution of broadband in urban areas.  As the FCC moves forward to adopt new rules in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund proceeding, we urge you to promote the deployment of networks that will be sustainable even as new advancements are made and are capable of delivering the best level of broadband access for the available USF budget for many years to come.”

A copy of the letter is available here.