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Congress Asks FCC to Increase Rural Broadband Goals

in FCC/National Broadband Plan/Universal Service by

WASHINGTON, June 2, 2010 --  A bipartisan coalition of 40 congressional officials has sent FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski  a letter asserting that the official government goal of 4 megabits per second for rural broadband  is too low.

“Our concern is the [National Broadband Plan] sets the United States on a course toward a greater digital divide between urban and rural areas by proposing 4 mbps as the goal for rural regions while boasting about the benefits of 100 mbps for more densely populated areas,” they wrote.

The letter goes onto say that this threshold will not allow for the future development of bandwidth intensive applications. Additionally, it is not nearly enough to carry a reasonable amount of data for the current demands of the health care or public safety communities.

The authors criticize the organization for abandoning the "universal service" methodology for expanding telecommunications service and trying a new path. They claim this will create regulatory uncertainty that small rural telecom firms will be unable to navigate. They also believe that these recommendations will lead to job loss and a decrease in capital investment.

The letter was signed by a number of lawmakers from states with rural concerns including Sam Graves (R-Mo.),  Betsy Markey (D-Colo.), Lee Terry (R-Neb.) and Leonard Boswell (D- Iowa).

Rahul Gaitonde has been writing for since the fall of 2009, and in May of 2010 he became Deputy Editor. He was a fellow at George Mason University’s Long Term Governance Project, a researcher at the International Center for Applied Studies in Information Technology and worked at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. He holds a Masters of Public Policy from George Mason University, where his research focused on the economic and social benefits of broadband expansion. He has written extensively about Universal Service Fund reform, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and the Broadband Data Improvement Act

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