Lawmakers urge FCC to boost mobile broadband in rural areas

Lawmakers urge FCC to boost mobile broadband in rural areas

A bipartisan coalition of more than two dozen lawmakers has urged the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to make it a priority to provide access to mobile broadband in rural areas of the nation.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, the bipartisan coalition of 28 lawmakers said they all support the federal agency’s efforts to bridge the wide digital gap between the urban and rural areas of the United States.

They wrote in the letter, “We support your efforts to close the digital divide for low-income and rural Americans. Going forward, these efforts must include removing barriers to broadband deployment and promoting innovation, as well as adopting a Universal Service Fund (USF) Mobility Fund Phase II (MFII).”

The list of lawmakers who signed the latter includes Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia).

The aforementioned USF is composed of telecommunications fees and subsidies managed by the FCC to promote and expand access to telecom services for the public. It particularly supports the expansion of broadband networks with $500 million accessible for deploying and maintaining mobile broadband as well as voice service in rural areas.

Meanwhile, the FCC has released a draft of a rulemaking that aims to provide television stations with the option of broadcasting with new ATSC 3.0 standard, promising a host of new services and enhancements. The rulemaking is expected to be launched on Feb. 23, 2017.