WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), chairman of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, questioned Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler about the status of the agency’s year-end timeline to provide affordable broadband to rural America.
“Connectivity such as broadband is the vital infrastructure for the modern age. Citizens living in rural Arkansas deserve access to reasonably priced broadband. This is an important economic tool and that’s why the FCC needs to update its rules that fail to keep this service at an affordable cost,” Boozman said.
High speed Internet is a luxury for most Arkansans. According to the FCC, 84 percent of rural Arkansas lacks access to broadband, which is more than 30 percentage points higher than the national average. TechNet’s 2012 State Broadband Index ranked Arkansas 50th for broadband utilization.
When questioned by Senator Boozman, Wheeler pledged to implement reforms to the Universal Service Fund “by football season.”
Under the antiquated rules currently in effect, the Universal Service Fund only provides support for rural Internet access if broadband service is bundled with traditional phone service.