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To read more about Senator Lankford’s border security policy proposal, CLICK HERE.

Lankford, Daines, Colleagues: Broadband Projects Must Prioritize Rural America

WASHINGTON, DC  – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) joined Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) and their Senate colleagues to send a letter to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) expressing the importance of reliable broadband service for rural America. They requested that federally funded broadband projects prioritize unserved areas instead of overbuilding existing broadband infrastructure in areas with reliable broadband service.

Joining Lankford and Daines in sending the letter were Senators Chuck Grassley (IA), Thom Tillis (NC), John Barrasso (WY), Marco Rubio (FL), Mike Braun (IN), Cynthia Lummis (WY), Jim Risch (ID), Lindsey Graham (SC), Tommy Tuberville (AL), John Kennedy (LA), Mike Crapo (ID), Ted Cruz (TX), John Boozman (AR), Richard Burr (NC), John Cornyn (TX), Roger Marshall (KS), and Jim Inhofe (OK).

“NTIA has an opportunity to make substantial impact on connecting rural America. However, doing so will require that your agency outline rules that specifically prohibit overbuilding and that set clear criteria to ensure projects targeted at unserved areas are actually prioritized. The regulations and methodology for the distribution of these funds must prioritize projects that are connecting customers and communities to broadband for the first time and avoid projects in areas where reliable broadband is already being provided or where there is an enforceable commitment to build high-speed broadband using federal or state funds,” the Senators wrote.

“Further, you must work in concert with other broadband programs to avoid duplication of state or federal government efforts and your department should ensure that all technological options are on the table to bring broadband service to unserved areas. This will ensure that all customers, regardless of location have the opportunity to benefit from this program,” the letter continues.

You can read the full letter HERE and below:

Dear Assistant Secretary Davidson,

Closing the digital divide has long been a bipartisan priority for those living in rural states. Over the last two years, Congress has distributed billions of dollars to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and other Federal agencies to close this divide. It is now more important than ever that these agencies ensure that broadband funding goes to unserved areas and not to overbuild existing reliable broadband infrastructure in areas where broadband providers serve or have committed to serve. This not only wastes Federal funds on areas that do not need it, but also suppresses future deployment in communities in need of opportunities today.

NTIA has an opportunity to make substantial impact on connecting rural America. However, doing so will require that your agency outline rules that specifically prohibit overbuilding and that set clear criteria to ensure projects targeted at unserved areas are actually prioritized. The regulations and methodology for the distribution of these funds must prioritize projects that are connecting customers and communities to broadband for the first time and avoid projects in areas where reliable broadband is already being provided or where there is an enforceable commitment to build high-speed broadband using federal or state funds. Further, you must work in concert with other broadband programs to avoid duplication of state or federal government efforts and your department should ensure that all technological options are on the table to bring broadband service to unserved areas. This will ensure that all customers, regardless of location have the opportunity to benefit from this program.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to continuing to work with you to bridge the rural broadband gap and finally connect our most unserved areas.

Sincerely,

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