Charter is committed to delivering high quality broadband to more people in more places – whether they live in big cities or rural America. In fact, in just the past two years, we’ve invested more than $25 billion in new technology and infrastructure and reached an additional 1.5 million new homes and businesses, nearly 30% of which are in rural areas.
But we have to do more for the 21 million Americans the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) estimates remain without access to high-speed internet. The importance of closing the digital divide is one thing policymakers and regulators across the country can all agree on. Many programs offer government funding to help internet service providers build into areas that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive. But unfortunately, many of these programs subject recipients to outdated requirements that are so burdensome that some of the internet providers best positioned to bring service to these hard to reach areas don’t even apply. Rural Americans deserve access to high-quality, high-speed internet and government funding should encourage participation by as many providers as possible.
Long time rural broadband advocate Congressman G. K. Butterfield recently introduced the “Expanding Opportunities for Broadband Deployment Act.” If passed, this important piece of legislation would have a near immediate impact in helping close the digital divide by expanding access to federal broadband subsidies to more providers who can bring service to those who need it most. By eliminating some of the more restrictive and burdensome requirements, Congressman Butterfield’s legislation will better align critical federal broadband funding programs with today’s technology and connectivity needs, reduce regulatory hurdles, and provide new opportunities for much needed broadband expansion.
Broadband can provide life-changing opportunities, and has never been more important. In this new, more virtual world, people are accessing the internet like never before to learn and work remotely, continue to serve customers, and stay connected and engaged with family and friends. Congressman Butterfield’s legislation recognizes today’s need to update the rules of the road for federal broadband subsidy programs and will make great strides toward bringing these opportunities to more communities across America.