Broadband internet is no longer a luxury, but a necessity for full participation in our economy and society. Yet in 2014 many Americans, particularly in rural America, remain unserved and underserved by quality, affordable high-speed options.
Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative and Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications are attempting to change national policy to open the retail marketplace so that other entities, like us, can provide real solutions for rural broadband. We need your help now.
In typical government style, it’s overly complicated and highly bureaucratic, but here is a snapshot of the current situation:
Over many years we have all paid into a Universal Service Fund (USF) through our telephone bills. This was designed to ensure that all Americans have access to quality telecommunications services at reasonable and affordable rates. Out of the USF came the Connect America Fund (CAF), a pot of money specifically designated to extend broadband and advanced mobile services to rural America. Due to policy and politics, those funds are intended to be funneled through incumbent telecommunications providers who are not motivated to use them to truly affect large-scale change within rural America. These providers report that they are offering broadband service, yet many in the rural space have yet to understand what a true high-speed service experience looks like.
Right now, there is $1.8 billion/year for a five-year period available to extend broadband to the rural space and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) holds the purse strings. PSREC and PST, working closely with other vested partners, has committed significant time and resources to engage FCC and other agencies in dialog about meaningful policy change that would make funds available to non-incumbent providers who are truly interested in impacting change on behalf of rural Americans.
Our Call To Action:
The FCC is under pressure to get the $1.8 billion allocated, and that money will go to the incumbent providers unless we can quickly present an organized voice at a grassroots, user level. We must help legislators understand that current rural broadband options are inadequate, and we need and deserve an open marketplace of providers that understands the needs of rural America and can provide meaningful solutions. We need our elected representatives to demand policy change within the FCC.
With policy change and access to CAF funds, PSREC and PST expect to bring broadband solutions to our membership over a 3-5 year period. Without access to those funds, it will take many years.
We need your help today. Please convey this message to your elected officials.
Congressman Doug LaMalfa
Senator Barbara Boxer
Senator Dianne Feinstein
This is a timely and urgent issue. Thank you for your immediate response.
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