U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today issued the following statement on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) adoption of an order addressing funding for broadband deployment in rural areas. Through oversight of the FCC, the committee has remained committed to closing the digital divide and ensuring America’s rural communities have advanced telecommunications capability. With its action today, the FCC has fulfilled its promise to the committee and to America’s rural communities to do its part to overcome the difficulty of deploying broadband to rural areas by ordering more funding for broadband deployment in South Dakota and across the country.
“Broadband is vital to America’s rural communities,” said Thune. “Today the FCC, under the leadership of Chairman Pai, has taken an extremely important step to enable the continued deployment of broadband so critical to communities in my home state and rural communities across the country. By ensuring predictable and sufficient support, the commission has fulfilled an important obligation to ensure universal service and meet its obligations under the law.”
Over the past several years, the committee has conducted hearings with testimony from rural broadband providers, farmers, tribal representatives, and others on the critical role broadband plays in the lives and economies of rural America and the challenges involved in deploying broadband in rural areas.
At a hearing in August, Thune discussed the importance for rural broadband deployment with the FCC. In October, Thune, together with Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), sent a letter urging the FCC to fully fund the Universal Service Fund’s High Cost program’s budget.