Thirty four million Americans lack access to broadband and the country is ranked 16th in the world for broadband access, said U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), without citing a source, according to Broadbandbreakfast.com. Speaking at a hearing last week on improving broadband deployment in rural areas to a House Small Business Subcommittee, Schneider and others discussed how Congress can improve broadband deployment.
Mike Romano, lobbyist for NTCA, the Rural Broadband Association, said providers don’t usually see a ROI for providing broadband in outlying areas. That’s why the FCC’s Universal Service Fund, a public-private partnership, is so important. But the USF has at times, been inefficient with a flat budget since 2011, he said, according to Broadbandbreakfast.com.
VTX1 CEO Dave Osborn said the FCC provides “an outdated” budget to providers and tells them what it can be used for, while at the same time, increases reporting obligations. He cited a Federal Trade Commission report that stated on average, 3,200 hours are spent completing USF reporting requirements at an average annual cost of $100,000.
Better location map data is needed to pinpoint where broadband coverage exists and where there are gaps, testified Competitive Carriers Association lobbyist Tom Donovan. It’s important to have a 4G baseline now as 5G is being developed, he said, noting that some areas of the U.S. are still using 2G.
June 28, 2017